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LC:Speech of SCS at the Finance Committee special meeting


Following is the full text of a speech by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Joseph Wong Wing-ping, in the Legislative Council Finance Committee special meeting today (March 23) :

Mr Chairman,

I would like to start by saying a few words about the progress that we have made in containing the size of the Civil Service while upholding the quality of public service. The Financial Secretary announced in his Budget Speech last year an initiative to reduce the total civil service establishment by 10,000, or about 5 per cent, from 198 000 to 188 000 over the period from 2000-01 to 2002-03. I am grateful to all my colleagues for their concerted efforts. Together we have managed to reduce the Civil Service establishment by 8 000 to 190 000 by the end of this financial year. We see scope for further deletion of some 9 000 Civil Service posts in the coming two years as a result of the Voluntary Departure Scheme of the Housing Department and the Voluntary Retirement Scheme. This will surpass the target set by the Financial Secretary and bring the Civil Service establishment down to 181 000 by the end of 2002-03. It is worthy to note that the reduction is made under the deletion of vacant posts or voluntary departure of officers. In other words, there is no forced redundancy among the serving civil servants.

At the same time, the Civil Service remains committed to continued improvement in service quality. Earlier this month, we presented prizes to 20 teams of civil servants who won the "Quality Service Enhancement Award" under the Customer Service Award Scheme organized by the Civil Service Bureau. The winning teams were selected from 75 participating teams. They set very good examples of joint efforts made by both management and staff to increase productivity with reduced resources through redeployment of resources, redistribution of work, streamlining of procedures and re-organisation. I have put some examples of these departments' innovative efforts in the Annex to my speaking note to share with Members their accomplishments.

In the light of remarkable results achieved so far, the Financial Secretary announced in his Budget Speech this year that the freeze on recruitment to the Civil Service would be lifted. I would like to assure Members that the Administration will continue to be vigilant of the growth of the Civil Service. We shall put in place measures to ensure that departments will continue to carefully control the growth of departmental establishment, streamline their existing operations, and deliver services through cost-effective means.

To keep step with the enhanced service culture in the Civil Service Reform, it is important that civil servants have the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the latest service requirements. I wish to thank Members for your approval of $50 million to launch a 3-year Training and Development Programme for civil servants. The Programme will provide an additional 90 000 training opportunities to civil servants and particular attention will be given to the training needs of junior staff. We have invited departments to draw up detailed training and staff-development plans and we shall ensure optimization of the training resources.

To formally mark the launch of our 3-year Training and Development Programme, we are holding a Symposium and Exhibition on Continuous Learning and Development at the City Hall on 2 April 2001. I would like to invite Members to the occasion and share with us your valuable ideas and experience.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my presentation. My colleagues and I will be happy to answer any questions.

End/Friday, March 23, 2001