Photo taken on July 14, 2020 shows the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong. (Photo/Xinhua)
The Hong Kong government's restructuring plan was passed by lawmakers on Wednesday, and it will now see the current 13 bureaus expanded to 15, and the introduction of three deputy secretaries at the senior level.
Among the 80 lawmakers attending the meeting, 77 cast votes in favor. The restructuring plan is expected to take effect on July 1, when the new government officials are sworn into office.
According to the plan, a new culture, sports and tourism bureau will be set up and the transport and housing bureau will be split into two. Four other bureaus will be renamed and restructured.
Voting in favor, Chairwoman of the New People's Party Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said that the structure of the government should keep pace with the times. She believes that the newly added deputy secretaries can share the burden of three secretaries and propel major government plans such as the Northern Metropolis blueprint, which aims to reinvigorate the city's northern border area and build it into a thriving development hub.
Starry Lee Wai-king, who chairs the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest political party in the city, also expressed support for the bill.
She hopes the reshuffle will also bring a fresh look to government administration, which will involve deeper ties with local communities to listen to their needs and explain policies.
Also rooting for the plan, Lam Kin-fung, vice-chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, expressed hopes that the job responsibilities of the three deputy secretaries could be revealed as soon as possible, so that they could be placed under the supervision of lawmakers and the public.
Upon the suggestion of the chief executive-designate John Lee Ka-chiu, the reshuffle plan proposes to add three deputy secretaries－namely a deputy chief secretary for administration, a deputy financial secretary, and a deputy secretary for justice to improve the government's efficiency. In total, the next government will add 70 posts.
The overall restructure is expected to cost HK$120 million ($15.3 million) annually, of which HK$95 million will be used as salaries for the new posts.
The funding of the reshuffle was approved by the Legislative Council's Finance Committee on June 10, with 73 votes in favor.