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CE announces reorganisation of Government Secretariat

The Chief Executive (CE), Mr Donald Tsang, announced today (May 3) the plan to reorganise the Government Secretariat which will take effect from July 1, 2007.

Addressing the Legislative Council on the reorganisation plan, the CE said that the reorganisation served two key objectives.

He said, "Firstly, the reorganisation aims to rationalise the distribution of responsibilities between policy bureaux. Putting related responsibilities under one bureau will help optimise the synergy and enable the Government to sharpen its focus on important and complex issues.

"Secondly, this will better facilitate the CE to implement the priority policy initiatives pledged during the CE election to meet the opportunities and challenges of Hong Kong ahead."

Pursuant to the reorganisation, there will be 12 bureaux, with the net addition of one, being the Labour and Welfare Bureau, after the reorganisation. Each bureau will be headed by a Director of Bureau. The setting up of the private office of the additional Director of Bureau constitutes the only net increase in civil service establishment.

Major changes involved in the reorganisation are as follows -

(a) Development: The Development Bureau will cover matters relating to planning, land use, buildings, urban renewal, and development-related heritage conservation. Bringing related policies together will help speed up the implementation of large-scale projects, and enhance efficiency while ensuring early attention to heritage conservation.

(b) Food and Health: To enable more focused attention to the related issues of food and health, they will remain with the same bureau (ie the Food and Health Bureau). The welfare portfolio will be transferred to the Labour and Welfare Bureau after the reorganisation.

(c) Labour and Welfare: Reorganisation will help realise the CE's election pledge of alleviating poverty and promoting self-reliance through job creation. Policy responsibilities for labour, manpower and welfare issues will come under the new Labour and Welfare Bureau to help enhance policy interface.

(d) Environment: Closely related policies on environmental protection, sustainable development and energy will be put under the same bureau (ie the Environment Bureau).

(e) Transport and Housing: Matters relating to our internal and external transportation, including air services, maritime transport, land transport and logistics, will be put under the same roof (ie the Transport and Housing Bureau). The bureau will also take charge of housing policy.

(f) Commerce and Economic Development: The policy portfolio of the present Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau will be merged with closely related areas of the present Economic Development and Labour Bureau and expanded to cover matters relating to tourism, consumer protection, creative industry and competition policy. Recognising the expanded remit of the bureau, it will be re-titled the "Commerce and Economic Development Bureau".

(g) Home Affairs: Policy on social enterprise and legal aid will be put under the Home Affairs Bureau, but matters relating to human rights and access to information will be transferred to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, and development-related heritage conservation will come under the Development Bureau.

(h) Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: The Constitutional Affairs Bureau will be re-titled the "Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau" to reflect more accurately the fact that coordination of HKSAR's relations with the Mainland is under the Bureau's charge. The bureau will also take up matters relating to human rights and access to information.

Legislative amendments will be introduced shortly to reflect the changes to the post titles of the various Directors of Bureau who are to take charge of the relevant reorganised bureaux.

Pursuant to section 54A of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1), the LegCo may by resolution provide for the transfer of statutory functions vested in one public officer to another public officer.

Subsequently, the Chief Executive in Council will make an order to amend the list of public officers specified in Schedule 6 to Cap. 1. The Resolution and the Order have to come into force on July 1, 2007.

The Government also takes the opportunity to align the terms of employment of the post of Director of Chief Executive’s Office (DCEO) with Directors of Bureau.

As DCEO is a political appointee performing the roles and responsibilities akin to those of Principal Officials under the accountability system, it is only reasonable and logical that his terms of employment should be identical to those of Directors of Bureau, instead of pegging to that of a Directorate civil servant at D8 level as at present. The additional annual cost is about $0.4 million.

Ends/Thursday, May 3, 2007