Reorganisation of Government Secretariat (May 2007)
The Hong Kong Institute of Planners has the following comments on the proposed re-organization:
1. The Development Bureau
While the formation of the Development Bureau is intended to achieve better co-ordination of large scale development and infrastructural projects, how these projects would be balanced with proper public engagement, heritage conservation, sustainability and environmental consideration is not clear. The new organization structure would place the Environment Bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau under the Chief Secretary and the Development Bureau under the Financial Secretary. Such arrangement is likely to result in more complicated procedures than more effective co-ordination.
As suggested by the HKIP in its position paper on HK’s Heritage Conservation Policy, an integrated planning and conservation approach should be adopted. Heritage conservation, not just development related heritage projects, should be the policy responsibility of the Development Bureau. Placing the Development Bureau under Financial Secretary should not in any way imply that financial consideration would take precedence over cultural, social and environmental aspects in the decision making process.
2. Environment Bureau
Sustainable development (SD) advocates that development should be balanced on environmental, social and economic aspects. It should be the guiding principle for the government to operate upon. It is thus not logical to subsume SD under the Environment Bureau as it would be sending the wrong message that SD is environmental protection only. Moreover, one of the functions of the Sustainable Development Unit is to carry out sustainability assessment of all Government’s new policies or major projects prior to ExCo submission. As such, it should not be under any of the 12 policy bureaux in order to maintain its independence. Otherwise there would be a serious conflict of interest to assess the bureau’s own policies/projects. The Unit’s independence should be maintained.
3. Transport and Housing Bureau
The rationale of placing transport and housing under one bureau is not clear. The proposed Transport and Housing Bureau will be under CS while the Development Bureau under FS. Planning of major infrastructure projects involves efficient co-ordination among departments within the two bureaux. There is doubt such arrangement would have improved such co-ordination.
Hong Kong Institute of Planners