Delay to vote on funding for Hong Kong public works may cost 10,000 jobs, pan-democrats are warned

The camp wants projects to be reviewed individually instead of being lumped into a package for approval

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 2017, 10:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 2:41am

Acting Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung has warned pan-democrats that their deliberate delay in approving a funding request of HK$12.4 billion for a package of about 9,400 public works projects could result in some 10,000 workers losing their jobs.

The pan-democratic camp resorted to filibustering to block the request because of unhappiness over some items included in the projects package, such as preliminary works on controversial developments in Wang Chau and Lantau.

Pan-democrats challenged the approval system for funding, insisting that project requests should be individually assessed instead of being lumped together into a package.

In a post yesterday on his official blog, Ma said the block allocation method for projects under the Capital Works Reserve Fund has been in place since 1983, and that he saw no need to depart from the current practice.

“If each of the thousands of projects is to be examined one by one, it will be mission impossible,” he wrote.

If each of the thousands of projects is to be examined one by one, it will be mission impossible
Eric Ma, Acting Secretary for Development

Ma added: “Some 8,000 of the [9,400] projects are ongoing works and if funding cannot be secured [by April], it is estimated that over 10,000 workers may not get paid … or even face mass sacking.

“Hundreds of consultancy firms, contractors and sub-contractors – most of which are small and medium enterprises – could run short of cash to pay their workers and may have to close down because of financial problems.”

The public works subcommittee under the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet again to debate the funding request on Wednesday. Members last met earlier this month but failed to vote on an outcome, as much of the meeting time was spent debating an adjournment motion put forth by localist lawmaker Edward Yiu Chung-yim.

The funding request has been held up for about two months.