Freeze on creating civil service posts

Top News | Mandy Zheng 26 Nov 2020

All proposals to create new positions in the civil service will be retracted as the government tightens its purse strings. And if a new post is absolutely necessary, authorities will first create a temporary one.

Carrie Lam said she made the decision after lawmakers questioned the government's request to create directorate posts amid the pandemic.

She was referring to a meeting of the Legislative Council's finance committee on Friday when reviewing the government's application for funding to add more than 10 directorate posts, which lawmakers criticized as inappropriate considering the dismal economy.

"I understand lawmakers' concerns and have decided to withdraw all the staff establishment proposals awaiting scrutiny and review them individually," Lam said.

The government also scrapped the proposal to build an exhibition center on top of the MTR Exhibition Station in Wan Chai, which is under construction on the Sha Tin to Central Rail Link.

"In view of the technical difficulties involved, the uncertainties concerning the construction period and concerns about cost-effectiveness, we have decided to use the site for other purposes," Lam said.

Likewise, the plan to introduce franchised taxis was shelved as authorities set out to increase the penalty for unlicensed cabs through legislative amendments.

Lam announced several new social welfare measures, including cash subsidies to grassroots families awaiting public rental housing for more than three years. It will benefit 90,000 people - public rental housing applicants who are not living in public housing and not receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance allowances.

Applications will start from mid-2021.

Another measure is to extend the public transport fare subsidy scheme by six months, with its threshold of application lowered.

This means from January to June 2021, the government will cover one-third of a person's monthly public transport expense if it exceeds HK$200 per month.

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