Finance Committee unlikely to clear funding backlog amid political stalemate

Lawmakers unlikely to approve a backlog of requests before end of current session as they refuse to agree on how they should be handled

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 3:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 11:25am

The backlog in the legislature's Finance Committee seems unlikely to be cleared before the end of the current session after pan-democrats and the government stuck to their opposing views on how remaining funding requests should be handled.

The committee today holds its last meeting before the summer recess with a backlog of more than 40 requests still on the table. Twenty-seven pan-democratic lawmakers - including radicals - yesterday issued a statement urging the government to give priority to less controversial items on the agenda.

The radical democrats, whose delaying tactics have held up the committee's procedures, promised to stop filibustering on all requests related to livelihood issues. However, they vowed to stage another round of filibustering if the government refused to remove funding applications for its controversial waste-infrastructure plans.

But the government refused to budge from its present schedule - and received strong support from the pro-establishment camp, with leading figure Tam Yiu-chung warning that any concession would only "encourage further filibustering".

Frederick Fung Kin-kee, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, said the government had no excuse not to change its schedule.

"The pan-democrats and even some pro-Beijing lawmakers, including Finance Committee chairman Ng Leung-sing, all agree that the government should rearrange its agenda to deal with the items related to livelihood issues first," he said.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit also called on the government to postpone its waste-infrastructure plans - which include extending three landfills and building an incinerator - as they were "contentious and immature".

But insurance sector lawmaker Chan Kin-por said rearranging the agenda would set a bad precedent. "It's totally crazy to allow a few people to control everything," he said.

Beijing loyalist Wong Kwok-hing, of the Federation of Trade Unions, suggested the committee hold overnight meetings to ensure all funding requests could be scrutinised. But some lawmakers in the pro-government camp were understood to favour dialogue with the pan-democrats to avoid a deadlock.

Ng earlier asked the 69-member Finance Committee, which includes all lawmakers except Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, to hold four additional two-hour sessions of the meeting tomorrow, on top of today's six-hour meeting.

A government spokesman said the current agenda already reflected its preference on the order of items to be discussed.