The Policy Address 2000

Civil Service Reform - Cautiously On Course

23. Our reforms include a review of the civil service, which on the whole is highly admired for its integrity and efficiency. However, to keep abreast of social advances, our civil service needs continuous improvements as well. After detailed study, we mapped out a package of reforms to modernise management, enhance productivity and revise the entry arrangements for new recruits. Most of the reforms have already been launched. In the course of the reforms, not a single serving officer has been subject to forced redundancy or salary cuts. The enhanced productivity arising from the reform will result in total savings this year and in the previous year of $1.8 billion in recurrent expenditure. Savings of $2 billion are expected to be made in each of the next two years. Thereafter our annual recurrent expenditure will be $5.8 billion less than it was before the Enhanced Productivity Programme. All the savings are to be used to provide better services to the public in various areas such as education, employment, health care and welfare.

24. The remaining measures to be introduced include a performance-based reward system and a provident fund scheme designed for new recruits. While we have not planned any major reform of the civil service other than those already announced, we must, of course, remain responsive to the developing needs of our society. We will continue to provide more effective and flexible services for our citizens. In the long run, our civil service needs to keep pace with the times. But before any new measure is introduced, we will hold extensive consultations and communicate with the staff side in a thorough, open and transparent manner.

25. Civil servants at all levels have made historic contributions to Hong Kong's smooth transition and our reunification with the motherland. They have actively participated in the implementation of government policies and reforms with a strong sense of mission and commitment. For our reforms to be successful, we need the management and the staff sides to join hands to realise the common goal of serving the community and building the SAR. As Chief Executive, I attach great importance to mutual trust and respect throughout all levels of the service. I hope there will be better co-ordination and communication within the civil service so that together we will help imbue an organisational culture appropriate for Hong Kong in the years ahead.

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