Hold-ups might mean finance talks would have to be held again, says tourism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 November, 1999, 12:00am

Officials would have to talk to Disney again on the financial calculations for the theme park project if approval were delayed for four to five months, a senior official warned.

Commissioner for Tourism Mike Rowse was responding to a demand by legislators that approval be withheld until the results of a full environmental impact assessment study were completed.

Of the $14.1 billion cost of the park itself, the Government will inject equity of $3.25 billion and a loan of $6.1 billion to Disney. Disney will raise $2.3 billion in private loans and invest $2.45 billion.

The Government will hold a 57 per cent share.

At a special economic services panel meeting, Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier asked why a full environmental assessment had not been made prior to approval.

'Is the Government bulldozing the whole thing?' she said. Environmentalists have also demanded a full assessment.

Director of Environmental Protection Robert Law said it would take three to four months for full assessments to be completed.

Mr Rowse said the Government would be able to sign the agreement before the end of the month if Legco approved it.

'If there is another four to five months' delay, the financial calculation has to start again,' he said.

He said there were 'walkaway' provisions in the agreement. There would be no Disneyland if, for instance, the Town Planning Board rejected the use of reclaimed land, he said.

In such a case, neither the Government nor Disney could ask for compensation.

The Government would need to pay compensation to the joint venture if there was any delay in government works that incurred extra costs not agreed with Disney, a paper to legislators said.

In the paper, the Economic Services Bureau said the Government and Disney had agreed to dovetail their respective construction work at north Lantau.

The opening of Disneyland might have to be deferred from 2005 to 2007 if there was no co-ordination in construction.

The two sides had so far agreed on two 'milestone dates' - January 31, 2000, when the tenders for reclamation are to be invited and April 30, 2000, when reclamation contracts are to be awarded.