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LCQ10: Establishment and strength of Landscape Architect grade

LCQ10: Establishment and strength of Landscape Architect grade
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Following is a question by the Hon Tony Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):

Question:

According to government papers, Landscape Architects are responsible for landscape planning and design, including planning and implementing suitable landscape works in the delivery of public works projects, and taking forward greening. According to the 2016 Policy Agenda, the Development Bureau’s on-going initiatives on greening, landscaping and tree management include continuing to “deliver higher quality landscape planning and design in the upstream and more diligent vegetation management and maintenance in the downstream”. However, some members of the public have queried whether the Government has recruited an adequate number of relevant professionals (particularly Landscape Architects) for implementing the relevant initiatives. According to the information provided by the Secretary for the Civil Service, there are at present approximately 91 posts in the establishment of the Landscape Architect grade in the Government, but among such posts, only one post of Chief Landscape Architect is ranked at Directorate Pay Scale (Point 1) level. Some members of the public and members from the sector have pointed out that there are apparent inadequacies in the structure of the Landscape Architect grade and the ratio of directorate posts to non-directorate posts in this grade is on the low side, as compared with other relevant professional grades responsible for land development, housing, engineering, etc. Moreover, in view of the Government’s plans to roll out a number of major development projects, the spate of tree collapse incidents in the past and the recent incident of the collapse of the greened roof of a hall at the City University of Hong Kong, the Government should increase the manpower in the Landscape Architect grade and revamp its grade structure, so as to enhance (i) the delivery of landscaping works in public works projects and (ii) the vetting and approval as well as monitoring of greening works for buildings. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the establishment and strength of the Landscape Architect grade in each of the past three years, and whether there were situations in which the strength was bigger than the establishment; if so, of the reasons for that;

(2) whether it will comprehensively review the structure (including the ranks, establishment, ratio of directorate posts to non-directorate posts, etc.) of the Landscape Architect grade; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct such a review; and

(3) whether it has assessed if the current establishment of the Landscape Architect grade can meet the needs arising from the Government’s implementation of various relevant policies and measures; if it has assessed and the outcome is in the negative, whether it will expand the establishment of the Landscape Architect grade and improve the existing grade structure; if it will, of the details and the implementation timetable; if it has not assessed, the reasons for that and whether it will conduct such an assessment in future?

Reply:

President,

My reply to the Hon Tony Tse’s question is as follows:

(1) The establishment and strength of the Landscape Architect (LA) grade in the past three years are shown in the Annex. There was no occurrence of over-establishment.

(2) and (3) The Development Bureau and departments with the LA grade post(s) on their establishment have reviewed their LA staff structure from time to time. New posts, including directorate posts, have been created under the existing mechanism in response to operational needs arising from the Government’s implementation of various relevant policies and measures. Over the past three financial years, from 2013-14 to 2015-16, the number of permanent LA posts has increased from 81 to 91, while the number of the LA staff from 85 to 94, representing an increase of 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. Moreover, during the 2015-16 financial year, two supernumerary directorate posts of Chief Landscape Architect were created for a period of not longer than six months under different time frames in the departments concerned to meet operational needs.

In considering the creation of new posts (including directorate posts), the Heads of Department would weigh their operational need and the availability of resources in planning their staff establishment. They would also strive to enhance efficiency through internal redeployment, streamlining and re-engineering. The creation of posts is subject to the principle of full justification on the grounds of operational need. The Government would strengthen the staff establishment, including directorate staff, as and when fully justified and through the annual Resource Allocation Exercise (RAE).

According to the review conducted at the end of 2015, most of the departments with LA posts considered it necessary to strengthen their LA grade establishment, including at the directorate level. The departments concerned would apply to strengthen the establishment under the RAE mechanism. Such applications, if fully justified, would receive the support of the Development Bureau.
Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:40