Lawmakers unhappy over Eco Park contract

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 July, 2010, 12:00am

Lawmakers yesterday voiced dismay over how the Environmental Protection Department had administered the management contract of the Eco Park in Tuen Mun.

In its latest report in response to an Audit Commission investigation, the legislature's Public Accounts Committee criticised the department for paying HK$32 million to the management company of the park between May 2007 and the end of last year, despite the fact that no recycler had started to operate at the park during that period.

The committee expressed dissatisfaction and found it unacceptable that the contract was designed in such a way, and that the department had done nothing to address the problem.

'Although the department was well aware that the project was to be implemented in two phases ... it had not tried to negotiate any adjustments,' the Legco report said.

The 20-hectare park, costing HK$300 million, was designed as a platform to encourage Hong Kong's recycling business. But because of the economic downturn in past years, its launch was repeatedly delayed since 2001, with the first plastic-recycling facilities opening for commercial use only in March this year.

In the same report, the committee urged the Home Affairs Bureau to acquire expertise in arts administration following the Audit Commission's report, which criticised the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra for having artistic staff who were underworked.

The report found that about a quarter of the staff worked 43 per cent less than required by their contracts in 2008-09 and that 5,262 complimentary tickets were given out without a proper written record. The orchestra receives 82 per cent of its income from government subsidies. But the orchestra and art critics dismissed the report, with some saying it was too money-minded, as arts could not be measured in monetary terms.

The Legco committee disagreed with the orchestra's view that sound governance and management were not the driver of artistic development. But the committee was concerned that the Home Affairs Bureau might not have the necessary expertise in arts administration, resulting in a failure to establish criteria for evaluation of subsidised arts groups.

The committee also urged other subsidised arts groups to enhance their standards of governance and management following the auditor's report.

Green ambitions

The Eco Park was designed as a platform to encourage recycling.

The amount, in HK dollars, it cost: $300m