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The URA Re-organizes to Implement the Urban Renewal Strategy and to Strengthen the Relationships with Districts

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced today (10 August 2001) that changes would be introduced to its organization structure.

The organization change is a strategic move to ensure that the URA will be in a strong position to implement the SAR Government's urban renewal strategy in an efficient and effective manner.

The URA Board approved the new structure at its recent meeting. "The new structure aims at delivering strong functional leadership through a leaner and more efficient organization," explained the URA Chairman Dr Lau Wah Sum.

The URA has to undertake a wider scope of work, which includes urban redevelopment, revitalisation of old districts, building rehabilitation, and preservation of district features and buildings with historical value. Therefore, the main focuses of the URA's work are:

  1. carrying out comprehensive planning in every district;
  2. concentrating on site assembly; and
  3. speeding up implementation of large-scale redevelopment projects.

The URA will further strengthen relationship with local communities, work closely with the social services teams and set up district advisory committees to ensure the adoption of the "people-oriented" approach in urban renewal.

"The new structure has a strong 'district' focus, providing clearer accountability and strengthening the relationships with the local communities," Dr Lau added.

"We have a clear and challenging mandate to implement the SAR Government's urban renewal strategy, which involves the undertaking of about 200 redevelopment projects over 20 years. We need a very efficient and effective organization structure to implement the strategy," said Dr Lau.

A key feature of the URA's new structure is to establish the District Development functions. They will ensure better co-ordination of functional duties at the district and project levels and clear accountability for the implementation of the projects. The relationships between the URA and the local communities will also be strengthened.

The headquarter functions of URA will be streamlined. Three of the divisions under the former LDC structure - project management, commercial, corporate services - will cease to exist in the new structure.

Explaining the personnel implications of the organization change, URA Managing Director Mr Canice Mak said: "The number of experienced staff in planning and site assembly is expected to grow as more and more redevelopment projects are implemented. This is why we intend to retrain and redeploy all the existing middle and junior staff to cope with the expected increase in volume of work."

Mr Mak added: "There are, however, 24 staff members, ranging from senior managers to Director levels, whose current positions/functions will cease to exist in the new structure. The URA has decided to terminate their employment and provide them with reasonable compensation packages."

The affected staff will be given a severance package of one-month salary for each year of service with a minimum of three months' salary and a maximum of 12 months. Expenses in severance payment are about $17 million, while the total outlay for staff made redundant is $ 27 million, including salaries, cash allowances and payment in lieu of notice, etc. Payment received by the affected staff ranges from $330,000 to $2.69 million.

Mr Mak has met with all the affected staff members who worked today and informed all the URA staff of the decision. The URA now has no plan for further cut in the Authority's establishment.

10 August 2001