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LCQ12: Leaves of POs and acting arrangements

Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 5):


Regarding the accountability system for principal officials, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the numbers of days when principal officials under the accountability system ("accountable officials") were unable to perform their duties due to their taking leave or absence from Hong Kong since the implementation of the system, broken down by post and month, as well as the titles of other accountable officials who temporarily acted on behalf of the absentees;

(b) of the numbers of occasions when accountable officials temporarily acted on behalf of other accountable officials since the implementation; and

(c) whether it will consider creating the post of Deputy Secretary under the existing framework?


Madam President,

(a) Under the accountability system, during the absence of the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) or the Financial Secretary (FS), arrangements will be made for a Director of Bureau to stand in as Acting CS or Acting FS, having regard to operational needs. For other Principal Officials (PO) under the accountability system, there will not be any acting arrangements. This is because in most circumstances, the administrative responsibilities of bureaux can be undertaken by Permanent Secretaries or other senior civil servants in the bureaux under delegated authority.

In case of special situations where attendance at a full Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting is required, arrangements will be made for a PO to cover for the absent PO.

In the case of the Secretary for Justice and the Secretary for the Civil Service, given their special roles and responsibilities, arrangements will be made during their absence as necessary for a designated Law Officer and the Permanent Secretary for the Civil Service (PSCS) respectively to attend full LegCo meetings. In attending full LegCo meetings, the relevant Law Officer and the PSCS will limit themselves to established policy.

The acting or covering arrangements made during the temporary absence of POs under the accountability system due to their taking leave or duty visit, together with the number of days absent from duty on these occasions, for the period 1 July 2002 to 30 April 2004 are set out at Annex A.

(b) The numbers of occasions when POs under the accountability system acted or covered for other POs for the period 1 July 2002 to 30 April 2004 are set out at Annex B.

(c) The existing acting or covering arrangements are adequate to meet operational needs. At present, the Administration has no intention to create the post of politically appointed deputy secretary under the existing framework.

Ends/Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Annex A (pdf)

Annex B (pdf)