Green light given for Hong Kong to spend HK$6 billion over five years to join Beijing-led AIIB
The Legislative Council’s Finance Committee voted 36 in favour, and 10 against.
The Legislative Council on Friday approved the government to invest HK$6 billion in the Beijing-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB.)
The Finance Committee’s approval came a week later than expected, after fierce debate over the funding commitment caused last week’s meeting to go on for seven hours, and there was no vote. This time, however, it was passed with 36 votes in favour and 10 against.
Hong Kong has been accepted as a member of the AIIB, but must also spend HK$6 billion over five years on 0.7 per cent of its shares, with HK$1.2 billion payable in the first year.
The AIIB, headquartered and initiated by China, will help fund the construction of infrastructure projects in more than 60 countries along Beijing’s “Belt and Road” global trade strategy.
In Friday’s meeting, which lasted just under two hours, most of the questions were asked by non-establishment legislators.
The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung questioned whether it made sense to spend so much money when Hong Kong’s needy also deserved financial assistance.
Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, meanwhile, said joining the AIIB was a political move to show support for the mainland, not something that would directly help Hong Kong’s economy.
Edward Yiu Chung-yim, who said he had done consulting work for the Asia Development Bank in the past, said the government “failed to provide any risk assessment” of the financial commitment.
James Lau, under secretary for financial services, said the AIIB had huge growth potential. “Every year up to 2030, the infrastructure needs of those countries will be US$2.7 trillion per year,” he said.
At a New People’s Party function on Friday, former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said Hong Kong’s 0.7 per cent share in the AIIB was good considering the size of the city’s economy. He also dismissed reports that he was in line to become deputy head of the AIIB.
Yiu Si-wing, a pro-establishment lawmaker for the tourism sector, supported the funding, saying it could boost the city’s economy at a time when other growth industries are easing.