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LCQ18: Remuneration of CE and politically appointed officials and honorarium of ExCo Non-Official Members

     Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 4):


     On the 16th of last month, the Government issued press releases at 11.01pm and at 11.06pm respectively, announcing the decisions to adjust the remuneration of the Chief Executive (CE) and the politically appointed officials (PAOs), as well as the honorarium of the non-official Members of the Executive Council (adjustment decisions). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) when the adjustment decisions were made; why it arranged announcing such decisions so late at night; whether, prior to the announcements, it had considered if such timing for the announcements would (i) create a public perception that the Government was acting stealthily, and (ii) render the media unable to report the decisions in their main news bulletins, thereby undermining the public's right to know;

(2) given the comments that although the adjustment decisions have been described as restoring to the levels in 2009 prior to the pay cut voluntarily offered by the personnel of the aforesaid positions, the incumbents of those positions are actually given a pay rise of 5 per cent, and coupled with the fact that prior to the adjustments, the remuneration of CE and PAOs was already higher than that of the heads of states and ministers in most other countries/places, whether the authorities had, prior to making the adjustment decisions, considered the current situation that quite a number of members of the public are dissatisfied with the performance of the current-term Government; if they had considered, of the details; and

(3) as CE undertook in 2012, when he was then the CE-elect, that he would not implement the proposal by the Government of the last term on a pay rise to restore the remuneration of CE and PAOs of the current-term Government to its real value in 2009, and that the remuneration of his team would be frozen at the 2012 level, whether the authorities have assessed if the adjustment decisions are in violation of the aforesaid undertaking, and whether they will consider withdrawing the decisions?



     My consolidated reply to Hon Frederick Fung's question is as follows.

     The remuneration of Chief Executive and politically appointed officials (PAOs) has not been adjusted since the approval of the level by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council (FC) in 2002. As for the honorarium of Non-Official Members of the Executive Council (ExCo), in accordance with the adjustment mechanism approved by the FC in 1993, it is annually adjusted in October according to movements of the Consumer Price Index.

     In 2009, the then Chief Executive and PAOs, having regard to the socioeconomic condition at that time, took a voluntary pay cut of 5.38 per cent in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong to ride out the then difficult times. The Convenor and other Non-official Members of the ExCo took the initiative to reduce their honorarium by 5.38 per cent.

     In 2012, the last-term Government originally proposed to increase the remuneration for PAOs by 8.1 per cent. In the light of the views of the public and the Legislative Council, it was decided not to pursue this proposal and the prevailing remuneration level would be maintained. In other words, the 2009 voluntary pay cut has not yet been restored, and the level of remuneration for Chief Executive and PAOs remain 5.38 per cent lower than that approved by the FC.

     Considering that the present economic conditions are obviously much improved as compared with those in 2009, the reasons for continuing the voluntary pay cut and honorarium reduction no longer exist. The Government decided that, with effect from February 1, 2015, the remuneration of the Chief Executive and PAOs would be restored to the level as approved in 2002 by the FC, and the voluntary 5.38 per cent reduction in the honorarium of Non-Official Members of the ExCo adopted since July 2009 would also cease to apply on the same day.

     The above decision is in line with the prevailing system as approved by the FC. The Government made an announcement on January 16, 2015 as soon as possible after making the decision.

Ends/Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:32


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