URA to consider releasing more details

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2009, 12:00am

The Urban Renewal Authority has agreed to consider disclosing financial details of each redevelopment project after pressure by lawmakers.

This follows complaints about a lack of transparency by members of the Legislative Council development panel yesterday at a meeting where the authority was asked to explain its financial and business plans.

'We have just been informed that seven completed projects generated a surplus of about HK $1.5 billion. But do all projects generate profits? Or did some suffer a loss?' asked Frederick Fung Kin-kee of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood.

Abraham Razack, representing the property sector, said the authority gave the public the impression that its operations lacked transparency. He wondered whether it was worried that the disclosure of such information would indirectly increase the acquisition cost of future projects, but said: 'It shouldn't be a worry. The authority is always required to follow the established mechanism to offer compensation.'

Alan Leong Kah-kit, of the Civic Party, asked whether contractual arrangements with developers prevented the authority from disclosing financial details.

Authority chairman Barry Cheung Chun-yuen said it could only disclose limited information because each redevelopment project involved joint venture partners, who could be affected by commercially sensitive information.

Mr Razack rejected the explanation. 'There shouldn't be any secrets given that the government has injected HK$10 billion into the authority.'

The authority's managing director, Quinn Law Yee-kwan, said the contractual agreement only required developers not to disclose tendering details. It did not control disclosure of financial details of redevelopments.

Mr Cheung said the authority would consider disclosing more financial information in the future.

A source close to the authority said board members would be consulted on the possibility of disclosing the financial outcome of each completed project.

Mr Cheung added that the authority would increase its cash flow by issuing bonds valued at HK$1 billion to HK$2 billion this year. The bonds would be aimed at institutional investors.


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