Speech at Council meeting Govt MotProp res under sec 54A of Interpretation & General Clauses Ord

Proposed resolution under section 54A of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): President, to tie in with the policy work priorities and respond to the expectations of the community, Chief Executive Carrie LAM put forward preliminary ideas in last year’s Policy Address on reorganizing the government structure to enhance the efficiency in policy implementation, including increasing the number of Policy Bureaux from 13 to 15 and effecting changes in the titles of some bureaux. To strengthen top-level steer of the Government, the Chief Executive-elect, Mr John LEE, proposed to create three Deputy Secretaries of Departments. The whole reorganization proposal is conducive to achieving a clearer division of work among the bureaux, enabling them to have clearer functions and responsibilities, and strengthening the composition of the top-level governing team. I therefore support the proposed resolution on reorganization.

With the enactment of the National Security Law and the improved electoral system, various sectors of the community consider that it is time to resolve the deep-rooted conflicts in society; in particular, housing is the most pressing problem. The Transport and Housing Bureau (“THB”) is responsible for two major livelihood issues and has a heavy workload. After its splitting into two Policy Bureaux, they may supervise and coordinate major policies under their respective purviews in a more focused and meticulous manner, and there will no longer be excuses for delaying work progress.

The reorganization proposal involves the creation of 70 new posts, including politically appointed officials, directorate and non-directorate civil servants. For the public, so many additional staff will increase the annual financial expenses by nearly $100 million, and the Government should further improve its administrative efficiency. For example, with the formation of the Housing Bureau after splitting THB and the establishment of the Task Force on Public Housing Projects and the Steering Committee on Land and Housing Supply, the public naturally expects the Government to speed up the construction and supply of public housing, shorten the current waiting time of 6.1 years, and assist them in moving into public rental housing flats as soon as possible.

The new-term Government will also take forward a number of major development projects, including the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Northern Metropolis and the Lantau Tomorrow project. Indeed, the three Secretaries of Departments have a heavy workload, each overseeing the work of a number of Policy Bureaux with a very extensive range of responsibilities. It is believed that the creation of three Deputy Secretaries of Departments to share some of the workload of the Secretaries of Departments will strengthen top-tier steer and coordination ability of the Government, so as to better promote and follow up on these long-term development projects.

The major infrastructure projects in Hong Kong often involve hundreds of billions of dollars, and any cost overruns or project delays will incur huge amounts of public money. If the creation of three Deputy Secretaries of Departments and the appropriate delegation of authority can strengthen the planning and supervision capacity, it is an imperative task.

In the past, the media often criticized the Government for not being sufficiently “down-to-earth” in policy formulation and for not considering the actual needs of the public, which promoted the spread of bureaucracy. After the reorganization, there will be 13 additional politically appointed officials. In formulating policies in the future, more politically accountable officials in the governing team should reach out to the grass roots. In particular, the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau should listen more to public opinion, analyse it first-hand and consider the possible impact of the policies on people’s lives, in areas as simple as buying food or taking means of transport, so as to address the most pressing needs of the public.

At present, work in the same area is often managed by different Policy Bureaux. A simple example is the youth problem; with a lack of coordination in the division of labour, unclear powers and responsibilities, officials will easily be indolent, sloppy, neglectful of their duties or shirking their responsibilities. After reorganizing the structure, the powers and responsibilities of different departments should be clearer and the cooperation between them should be closer, thus obviating the need for the public, due to the increase in government departments and posts, to visit different departments or spend more time on communication and coordination before problems can be solved. The public should consider that it is worth the while to create posts and increase staff costs, and they should be aware that governance has improved. Under an executive-led Government, good governance should be promoted to ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

As a Member representing the finance services functional constituency, I am particularly concerned about the development of the financial sector. The Financial Secretary has maintained good communication with the industry and made achievements in various financial development areas. He is going to oversee the Housing Bureau and the Transport and Logistics Bureau, and land and housing supply will be major issues to be dealt with. In the future, he also needs to deal with a number of internal and cross-boundary transport issues. Indeed, he is responsible for overseeing a very extensive scope. I hope the Financial Secretary will continue to be concerned about “consolidating and enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre” and, with the assistance of the Deputy Financial Secretary, he will put the tasks on a par, i.e. while dealing with the housing issues, he will consider various measures which are conducive to the development of an international financial centre, so as to maintain the sustainable development of the financial sector and enhance Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness.

I so submit. Thank you, President.