Water supply privatisation still on cards

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 2005, 12:00am

The government is still looking at ways to privatise the Water Supplies Department, including a public-private partnership, despite growing calls to suspend further asset sales.

'We hope that all parties will continue to discuss the issue of finding an acceptable way forward. We will also assess the impact of a public-private partnership on the department's staff,' Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang said at a Legislative Council debate on privatisation schemes yesterday.

As of May 1, the Water Supplies Department had a workforce of 4,751 employees, 1,903 of whom are technical staff.

Unlike a complete privatisation, a public-private partnership maintains some government participation while the private sector acts as a landlord, developing infrastructure and providing non-core services.

Legco shot down a motion introduced by Albert Chan Wai-yip demanding that government privatisation plans be suspended.

Lo Siu-lan - the elderly public housing tenant who has taken the Housing Authority to court over the sale of its housing estate shopping malls and car parks - shouted from the Legco gallery after the vote and was removed by security guards.