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Merger of the Environment Branch and the Environmental Protection Department


To improve service delivery and bring about efficiency gains in the area of environmental protection, the Government announced today (September 23) a plan to merge the Environment Branch (EB) of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) with effect from April 1, 2005.

The Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (Environment), Mr Kwok Ka-keung, will take up the duties of the Director of Environmental Protection. The existing Director of Environmental Protection, Mr Rob Law, will proceed on pre-retirement leave on April 1, 2005, after 23 years of distinguished service with the Government.

"The merger will achieve synergy between policy formulation and implementation," Mr Kwok said, "and is in line with the Government's commitment to streamlining and delayering the decision-making process. It will create an organisation which is able to integrate professional and public policy aspects of policy formulation at the earliest possible stage. The new organisation will be more nimble in responding to new environmental challenges".

The merged entity will be called the Environmental Protection Department. "The new organisation will remain the statutory authority responsible for the independent administration of environmental protection laws in the territory", Mr Kwok said. "As in the past, it will continue to enforce these laws without fear or favour."

The opportunity is also being taken to restructure some aspects of the EPD's current organisation so as to accommodate staff losses under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme and the Efficiency Savings Programme while maintaining the quality of service delivery. In particular, the new organisation will focus more on partnership with stakeholders and assisting trades in complying with environmental legislation.

The merger of EB and EPD will result in a net reduction of four directorate posts bringing about savings of $8.85 million per annum in staff costs. In the year up to the merger on April 1, 2005, EPD will also have shed 29 non-directorate posts entailing savings of about $20 million per annum in staff costs.

"We anticipate that further savings at the non-directorate level will be achieved within two years from the merger through streamlining and re-engineering internal administration. These savings will be achieved through natural wastage and deletion of vacancies without resorting to forced redundancy."

Ends/Thursday, September 23, 2004


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