Fears over true worth of deal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 November, 1999, 12:00am

Legislators expressed concern over whether the deal with Disney to build a theme park on Lantau Island, to be announced today, would be fair and profitable.

Some said they hoped the Government planned to sell its stake in the park in the long-run to increase private sector participation.

The total cost will be about $21 billion, of which the Government will pay $9 billion in cash and $6 billion in loans.

Chan Kam-lam of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said he was concerned with the amount of money being spent by taxpayers.

'We want to know how the taxpayers' money will be spent and whether the financial arrangement is fair,' he said.

That included the length of the franchise Disney could enjoy and how profits were to be shared with the Government.

'We hope the project will be a profitable one,' Mr Chan said.

Both Mr Chan and Democrat Sin Chung-kai suggested the Government sell its stake.

Mr Sin suggested that the administration should inject as little as possible.

'The theme park could be listed on the stock market to allow greater participation,' he added.

Mr Sin said the party would back infrastructure building by the Government.

Liberal Party legislator Howard Young shared Mr Sin's view that basic infrastructure such as sewage, site formation, roads, water and electricity should be provided by the Government.

'However, the land where the theme park is built should be counted as an investment by the Government in the project and should not be taken as a gift to Disney,' Mr Young said.

Choy So-yuk of the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance said she was concerned over how much was to be spent.

'The Government should not build it at the expense of other public expenditure,' she said.

Executive Councillor Raymond Ch'ien Kuo-fung said: 'The [Disney] theme park in Florida has helped promote tourism and provided a lot of job opportunities.' Exco colleague Henry Tang Ying-yen suggested mainland tourists be allowed to stay here one week without a visa to boost the number of visitors to the park.