About-turn over airport consultants

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 January, 1996, 12:00am

LEGISLATORS yesterday overturned a decision to approve $298 million to pay for consultancy work on the airport projects.

Members of the Finance Committee said it was unreasonable for the Government to spend an average of $300,000 per month on one consultant and another $30,000 on a secretary, doing only paper work.

The funding - for the fourth phase of the overall project management consultancy for the airport core programme - was approved by the public works sub-committee last week.

The third phase contract expires at the end of this month.

Director of the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office Billy Lam Chung-lun said the new agreement was necessary.

'The [airport] projects are now in full swing, we should avoid unnecessary changes,' Mr Lam said. But Democratic Party legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said the funding would place a heavy burden on taxpayers.

'I wonder why the Government is so generous. It really is a large sum of money,' he said.

Mr Chan, a member of the sub-committee, said he and his party colleagues had indicated reservations at last week's meeting.

Independent legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, also on the sub-committee, said the Finance Committee did not always approve proposals.

'It is only a small sub-committee. It cannot guarantee its proposals will be supported by the 60 legislators in the Finance Committee,' she said.

Some legislators criticised the failure to transfer experience and skill in the management of large-scale projects to government staff after commissioning a consultancy for more than four years.