Lawmakers slam Hong Kong government over HK$40 million temporary office for chief executive-elect

Legco not consulted on workspace for city’s next leader, located in pricy business district

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 January, 2017, 11:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 January, 2017, 12:43pm

Lawmakers have slammed the government for siting a temporary office for the chief executive-elect in the city’s most expensive business area at the cost of HK$40 million – without approval from the legislature.

At the Legislative Council’s constitutional affairs panel on Wednesday, members of both the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps hit out at the administration for bypassing them after learning that a contract had already been signed in January.

The office, which takes up a whole floor in Champion Tower on Garden Road, Central, will cost HK$17 million to fit out and reinstate. Another HK$13 million will go towards rent for eight months, and HK$10 million will be used to pay support staff.

But the city’s next leader, to be elected in March, will actually occupy the office for only three months, and will move to the government headquarters in Admiralty when he or she assumes office in July.

Hong Kong’s next leader must make better use of public funds

The government budgeted only HK$8 million for the last chief executive-elect’s office in 2012, when it was located at the former central government headquarters on Lower Albert Road.

Lawmaker Lau Kwok-fan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, asked why the government did not choose one of its own premises but opted instead for an expensive private office.

Legislator Chan Chi-chuen, of People Power, said: “Why don’t you choose a vacated school? Even if you turn it into a palace, you need only tens of millions of dollars.”

Bobby Cheng, deputy director of administration, said efforts had been made to locate vacant sites within government offices in Central and Admiralty, but in vain. He said the sum was included in this year’s government budget, so there was no need to seek additional approval from Legco.