Our Ref. : BP 6/25
4 April 2006
Review of Fringe Benefit Type of Civil Service Allowances
I am writing to inform you of the final package of change proposals following the completion of the review of fringe benefit type of civil service allowances. We will put the relevant proposals to the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council for approval next month.
Last September, we issued a consultation note setting out the change proposals for staff consultation and received 28 written submissions by the end of the consultation period in November. Over the last few months, we sought and obtained the advice of the advisory bodies on civil service salaries and conditions of service on the change proposals and the submissions received.
Taking account of the policy objectives of the allowance review, legal considerations, the views of the advisory bodies as well as the feedback from colleagues, we have finalised the package of change proposals. In considering whether an allowance should be removed or retained and what should be the appropriate rates for an allowance, we have been guided by the principles of lawfulness, reasonableness and fairness. We have also borne in mind the possible impact on eligible colleagues. A note on the final change proposals is attached herewith. The note has been uploaded onto the CSB homepage at www.csb.gov.hk this afternoon.
The more significant components of the final change proposals include -
(a) adjust the ceiling rates for Overseas Education Allowance and Local Education Allowance to the 1997 level for new claimants starting from the 2006-07 or the 2007 school year, as the case may be, and maintain these rates until the phasing out of the Allowances;
(b) freeze the current ceiling rates for Overseas and Local Education Allowances for existing claimants, with no further rate adjustment;
(c) adjust the ceiling rates for School Passage Allowance to the 1998 level for existing and new claimants starting from their next cycle, and maintain these rates until the phasing out of this Allowance; and
(d) abolish the provision of Air-conditioning Allowance and Hotel Subsistence Allowance.
Where appropriate, we have incorporated into the final package of change proposals measures that address colleagues' concerns or further rationalise the administration of some allowances, including -
(a) keeping the rates of Overseas Education Allowance and Sea Passage Allowance in foreign currencies for all claimants;
(b) removing the proposed restrictions on School Passage Allowance in respect of the number of splits and the class of travel;
(c) retaining the provision of Furniture and Domestic Appliances Allowances on their existing terms;
(d) changing the provision of Removal Allowance into fully non-accountable without adjusting the allowance rates; and
(e) retaining the provision of Hotel Accommodation on its existing terms.
We believe the final package of change proposals has largely addressed the main concerns advanced by colleagues and has achieved the broad objectives of the allowance review. Subject to the approval of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, we shall promulgate the change measures for implementation starting from mid-2006.
Thank you for your support and understanding in this exercise.
(Miss Denise YUE)
Secretary for the Civil Service