Leung Chun-ying hints at plan to import labour for construction

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 4:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 11:04am

The Chief Executive yesterday dropped another hint that imported labour might be used to help build a string of big construction projects in the next few years.

Leung Chun-ying said the city could not rely solely on local workers to complete all the infrastructure work, which includes the northeastern New Territories development and expansion of the Tung Chung new town.

"It would be hard to get all the construction projects done if we were to rely solely on the supply of local workers," Leung said at a Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce lunch.

"How can we find the right balance between the protection of local workers' interests and satisfying the labour demand of our society as a whole? That is the dilemma," said Leung.

Labour importation is under discussion in the consultation on the city's population policy, which proposes it in the face of an acute manpower shortage in some areas.

It was the second time this year that Leung had made such remarks. He gave a similar message in his question-andanswer session after the policy address in January.

Leung was speaking yesterday in reply to a question from a standing committee member of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Raymond Leung Hoi-ming.

He had earlier expressed a reluctance to state his personal view during the consultation process. The chief executive had already addressed the lunch on the government's efforts to find land to meet the demand from commercial and industrial developments.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said earlier this month that imported labour would be a last resort.

Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, secretary for transport and housing, has meanwhile raised the possibility of rent controls to curb the steep rise in rents for subdivided urban flats.

Speaking at a Legislative Council housing panel meeting called to hear the public's views on the government's proposed long-term housing strategy yesterday, he said he had not ruled out the measure.

Subdivided flats became popular with low-income families amid soaring rents for private flats. But even rents for these cubicles have recently risen out of the reach of such families.