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No. 52 of the Director of Audit's Report on the Equal Opportunities Commission

     In response to media enquiries regarding the Director of Audit's Report No. 52 on the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which was tabled in the Legislative Council (LegCo) today (April 22), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) said the Bureau welcomes the Report.

     "We respect the autonomy of the EOC, as an independent statutory body, in its internal management and operations.  At the same time, as the Government provides subvention to the EOC for its operations, we attach great importance to the observations and recommendations in the Report regarding the governance and administration of the EOC," the spokesman said.

     The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs (SCMA), Mr Stephen Lam, has written to the EOC Chairperson today to underline the importance for the EOC to carefully consider the observations and recommendations in the Report, and take appropriate follow-up actions.  This will include reviewing the internal guidelines, procedures and control mechanisms, with a view to ensuring good governance and efficient and economical use of resources.

     "We also accept the four recommendations in the Report for the CMAB.  We will take appropriate follow-up actions to implement the recommendations," the spokesman said.

     One of the four recommendations for the CMAB concerns the proposal to convert the post of the Chairperson into a non-executive position and to reinstate the Chief Executive Officer post. "The Bureau is reviewing the relevant considerations.  We note that some LegCo members had expressed strong reservations about the proposal in 2006.  We will take into account any further views that may be expressed by LegCo members and relevant quarters of the community in taking forward the review." 

     Another recommendation is that the SCMA should take into account the attendance of Members at Board meetings in assessing their suitability for their re-appointment to the EOC Board. "We have recently appointed the new Board of the EOC.  The Administration has fully considered relevant factors, including the attendance rate of incumbent members, members' abilities, expertise, experience, and commitment to public service, in order to appoint the most suitable persons to the EOC Board. We will continue to take into account these factors in assessing the suitability of members for appointment in future," the spokesman said.

     "Regarding the Memorandum of Administrative Arrangements (MAA) between the CMAB and the EOC, we have initiated the discussion with the EOC on the amendments to the MAA last year and have now reached the final stage. We understand that the EOC would finalise the amendments to the MAA with us as soon as practicable. In future, we will take timely action to update the MAA with the EOC, to reflect changing circumstances."

     As for the recommendation concerning the performance reporting of the EOC, the CMAB is working with the EOC to develop additional targets and indicators, to be reflected in the controlling officers' report next year.

     "We would like to reiterate that the Government attaches great importance to the Director of Audit's Report.  We will work closely with the EOC to ensure implementation of the recommendations in the Report by the EOC," the spokesman added.

Ends/Wednesday, April 22, 2009