Dear Colleagues, Congratulations on your superb achievements under the Enhanced Productivity Programme (EPP).
You have ample reasons to feel proud. Over the past 18 months since the EPP was launched by the Chief Executive in his 1998 Policy Address, Hong Kong had experienced its worst economic downturn since World War II. You have delivered public services to meet increased demand with less resources. You have cut red tape by streamlining procedures. You have found new and smarter ways to provide quality service to the community.
And in delivering all these, you have done much more than saving costs and raising productivity. You have helped to increase the community's confidence in Government and what it can achieve. And this, I feel, is the biggest reason for us all to feel proud and satisfied ?and also the reason for us to keep up with such efforts.
For we must not fool ourselves. We are serving an increasingly well-informed and demanding clientele. Our customers are constantly measuring our services and cost-effectiveness against those of the private sector and other administrations. We have made a good start with our initial EPP results to convince them that we are serious about trimming fat and raising productivity. But to win the trust and respect of the people we serve, we must continue to demonstrate that we are ready, willing, and able to do more and deliver world-class public service at a reasonable cost.
For this reason, having reviewed the size and demand on the Civil Service with the Chief Secretary for Administration, I announced in the Budget this year the target of reducing the establishment by 10,000 within three years.
This initiative will not translate into further cuts of funding on top of the pledged EPP targets. The objectives of this further initiative are to maintain a lean and fit service and to give a real push to exploring and experimenting with more imaginative and effective ways of serving the public. Out-sourcing is one option. This will provide an opportunity to learn from the best practices in the private sector. It will also turn more Civil Servants into smart service-buyers and contract-supervisors on the public's behalf.
I also hope that the exercise will encourage all managers to increase the use of manpower planning and manage human resources as valuable assets. By anticipating manpower needs and trends, filling skill gaps and empowering staff, you will find it much easier to break away from the layering and rigidity that characterises most bureaucracies.
Your remarkable EPP record has left me with no doubt that we will be able to deliver on the pledges we made to the public. This is what they rightly expect of us. This is what we as public servants should feel honoured to offer.
I look forward to having the pleasure of marvelling at your success and saying "Congratulations" again in the not too distant future.