Financial Secretary promises tighter controls on public expenditure as he seeks budget support

John Tsang's plans, which will affect infrastructure project costs, come after MTR's reveals Hong Kong's HK$67 billion high-speed rail link to Guangzhou will be late by up to two years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 6:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 7:51pm

The government is to introduce tighter controls on public expenditure, such new infrastructure project costs and procurement procedures, the Financial Secretary has announced.

The move is part of eight measures pledged by John Tsang Chun-wah to the Legislative Council as he seeks support for his annual budget.

“The Government will adjust the implementation schedules of new works projects as appropriate, to prevent an over-concentration of works, which will push up construction costs,” he told lawmakers.

“We shall exercise tighter cost controls over the various stages of projects, such as planning, design, tendering and construction, to avoid overspending.”

The move comes after Monday’s announcement by the MTR that “unforeseen difficulties” meant that the HK$67 billion high-speed railway linking Hong Kong to Guangzhou would be delayed by up to two years.

Transport Minister Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung admitted that he had learned of the extend of the delay only at the weekend and had been “totally caught by surprise”.

Apart from the procurement procedure review, the Tsang has also promised to strengthen the mechanism of financial impact assessment and to streamline service provision procedures to boost spending efficiency.

Legco passed the second reading of the budget by 44 votes to 15. But budget bill faces a filibuster – featuring 1,917 amendments – because pan-democrats plan to protest about the absence of a universal pension scheme from the blueprint.