• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 10:25am
NewsHong Kong

RTHK funding rejection puts other over-budget projects in doubt

Legco's tougher stance could affect plans for Central-Wan Chai bypass and border crossing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 7:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:20am

The future of other expensive projects is in doubt after legislators who halted funding for RTHK's planned new headquarters said they would not readily approve projects that ran over budget.

These include the Central-Wan Chai bypass and a new border crossing in the northeastern New Territories, due to be approved by the legislature's Finance Committee this month and next.

An "unexpected" surge in construction costs which has been blamed for the budget blowouts could also force the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to return to the Legislative Council for more funding to build its venues, although it has said it will not do so.

"Legco is not an automatic teller machine," lawmaker Abraham Razack, of the Business and Professionals Alliance said. "The government's explanation has been inadequate."

And New People's Party deputy chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said: "We cannot approve funding automatically."

Wong Kwok-hing of the Federation of Trade Unions called for a review of the government's formula for cost estimation.

Over-budget projects include the Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai border crossing, for which the estimated cost has risen by more than 50 per cent, from HK$16.25 billion in July 2012 to HK$24.8 billion by the end of last year.

The government blamed a sharp rise in construction costs, including equipment and wages. Overtime pay for workers was also cited as a factor, given the crossing must be ready by 2018.

The Central-Wan Chai bypass needs an extra HK$7.9 billion, a 28 per cent increase on the original cost estimate of HK$28.1 billion.

Wong Ting-kwong, representing the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said projects substantially over budget should be examined with extra care. "Lawmakers must be more careful as we need to be responsible to the citizens," he said.

But the Democratic Party took a more lenient stance. Party member Wu Chi-wai, who voted to approve the extra funding for the RTHK headquarters, said it would be difficult for lawmakers to refuse requests for extra funding.

"Sometimes, the delay of projects is caused by legal action but that's a way for people to voice their opposition," Wu said.

The Development Bureau stood by its formula for cost estimation yesterday, describing it as "a well-adopted practice".


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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
'...The Development Bureau stood by its formula for cost estimation yesterday, describing it as "a well-adopted practice"...'
That must be the best joke of the decade !
Now all school kids can use the same excuse when they fail their exams:
" We don't apologize for getting all our exam questions wrong - in fact we we stand by our wrong answers because it is a 'well-adopted practice'
The Government needs to explain clearly why they had erred so badly with the original funding request. The Director of RTHK should not be making the threat of having to start the retendering process all over again. Should this be done properly ie without any extravagance the outcome could well be a realistic price.
Too many Government infrastructure and facility construction projects on the boil simultaneously! (= shortage of labour and inflationary costs). Government needs to slow down and cut non-essential colossal projects. Finish those already actually under construction ( not merely 'planned' before approving funding for new projects . The first to be slashed now should be the unjustified 3rd runway. The priority now is build public housing and get property prices and rents back to about 2008 levels.
Dai Muff
This is not a "threat". It's the way the government system works. He has no choice but to re-tender the project. And nothing is EVER cheaper if you delay it for two years. Have we learned nothing from WKCD?
Isn't West Kowloon Cultural District already finished? I have seen the sign from a ferry. Now it would be worth checking what is the total (up to date) cost of this titanic effort.
Is it really worth that much money to spend on RTHK?
RTHK needs to decide what it wants to be. The program brief for the TKO development was vastly beyond what anyone at RTHK is capable of staffing let alone fully utilizing.
I wonder why? Bigger building must surely produce better sounds .....


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