Request for airport cash cut to $1.45b

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 1994, 12:00am

THE Government has thought better of asking the Legislative Council for all of the $3.87 billion needed to build government facilities at the new airport and now wants only $1.45 billion for what it will justify as ''urgent projects''.

Officials expected opposition from legislators to paying at this stage for fitting out the passenger terminal building and air cargo complex, as well as constructing police and fire stations and a mail centre.

Requests for funds for these will wait until the end of the year.

Under the new strategy, the Government will seek funds for construction of buildings such as an air traffic control complex and towers and for buying equipment such as surface-movement radar, control tower simulator, instrument landing systems as well asmeteorological requirements.

The revised plan will be put to the Legco Public Works Sub-committee for a vote today.

Officials maintained that it was urgent to design the sophisticated systems and facilities and put them out to tender and construct them, as the lead time was at least two to three years.

On the proposal to give Financial Secretary Sir Hamish Macleod power to use the contingency fund for the new airport's construction, a source stressed that the plan sought only to bolster transparency and increase the flexibility of legislators to monitor the airport core projects.

The proposal would give Sir Hamish the power to increase the estimates for projects under the airport core programme by a maximum of 10 per cent, making use of the ''contingency pool''.

The money in the pool, to top $1.84 billion, comes from the contingency fund approved for the items in the airport core programme, equalling five per cent of the project cost.

The source rejected legislators' criticisms that such an arrangement amounted to reducing Legco's powers.

The Government would suggest providing monthly reports on the use of contingency funds.

instead of quarterly reports as originally planned.