Clean-up to tackle swine flu comes in well under budget

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2011, 12:00am

Hygiene measures to combat swine flu cost about 15 per cent less than the funds allocated for them.

All departments met their hygiene objectives without spending as much as they had asked for in July 2009 - at the height of the swine flu pandemic - mainly because the contractors were able to do the jobs for less than expected.

The work, started in late 2009, cost HK$257 million, about 85 per cent of the original grant of HK$300 million to seven government departments approved by the Legislative Council's Finance Committee.

It included clearing drainage pipes, organising public exhibitions to promote awareness and sterilising public installations.

The figures were revealed in a final report by the departments to Legco's food safety and environmental hygiene panel yesterday.

A total of 3,800 temporary jobs were created during the clean-up efforts.

The Drainage Services Department, which was granted HK$155 million, planned to clean 100 kilometres of drains and sewers. It eventually cleaned 188 kilometres, spending just HK$151 million.

From October 2008 to September 2009, 3,960 drain blockages were recorded in Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hung Hom and Shau Kei Wan, the areas with the most number of blockages.

After the swine flu clean-up work was completed, the figure was down 23 per cent to 3,038 between October 2009 and September last year.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which spent just HK$72 million of the HK$99 million it received, cleared 307 tonnes of waste from 5,008 buildings without property management bodies.

All 105 'hygiene black spots' compiled by the 18 district councils had been taken off the list by February last year, the paper said.

The other departments that received the money were Home Affairs; Leisure and Cultural Services; Social Welfare; Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation; and Marine.