Following is a question by Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 12):
In response to my comments that the remuneration for principal officials (POs) in Hong Kong was much higher than that for POs in overseas countries and that for Members of this Council during the motion debate at the meeting of this Council on November 28, the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs said that “the remuneration for Secretaries of Departments and Directors of Bureaux...should be compared to that in the private market of Hong Kong. As the economy of Hong Kong is more developed, the remuneration in the private sector is usually higher than that in European and American countries”. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) of the respective details of the remuneration in the private sector in Hong Kong and that in European and American countries;
(b) what evidence indicates that the economy of Hong Kong is more developed than the economies of European and American countries, hence, the remuneration for POs in Hong Kong should be higher than that for cabinet members in those countries; and
(c) given that, as shown by the following table, the remuneration for cabinet members in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New South Wales, Australia is at most only 2.2 times that for members of their respective legislatures, why the remuneration for POs in Hong Kong is 4.8 times that for Members of this Council?
Monthly Monthly Ratio of
remuneration remuneration remuneration
for members for POs/ for POs to
of cabinet that for
legislatures members members of
(HK dollars) (HK dollars) legislatures
----------- ----------- ------------
56,750 298,115 4.8 times
The United States
106,666 116,000 1.09 times
The United Kingdom
70,833 160,000 2.2 times
86,250 128,000 1.47 times
New South Wales,
54,166 85,000 1.57 times
The Hong Kong economy has experienced strong growth. In the past two decades, Hong Kong’s GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 4.7 per cent in real terms. This surpasses both the global economic growth of 3.7 per cent and the 2.8 per cent growth recorded by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development economies.
In 2006, Hong Kong’s per capita GDP was US$27,680. This is one of the highest in Asia.
The remuneration package for officials under the Political Appointment System has to be competitive and should reflect the level of responsibility for these positions. The remuneration package for Principal Officials under the Political Appointment System was drawn up in 2002 with reference to the level of responsibilities that Principal Officials were expected to discharge. The pay range recommended by a consultancy study was based on a survey of remuneration of 56 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Hong Kong. The package recommended to and approved by the Legislative Council in 2002 had incorporated an element of discount from the median market remuneration package for the CEOs. According to the approved package, the cash remuneration for each Director of Bureau currently stands at $298,115 per month.
Different communities have their own systems and characteristics. It is not appropriate to make a direct comparison on the ratio of remuneration between cabinet members and legislators in overseas jurisdictions with that in Hong Kong.
Ends/Wednesday, December 12, 2007