Hong Kong Budget 2017-2018

Appeal for an even spread of infrastructure work as spending tops HK$100 billion

Fluctuations could rock the economy, financial secretary warns as he urges lawmakers not to delay projects

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 10:53am

Infrastructure spending in the coming year will edge up to HK$100 billion and care has to be taken to roll out projects evenly to avoid rocking the economy, the financial secretary warned on Wednesday.

Delivering his budget speech, Paul Chan Mo-po said capital works expenditure was expected to remain at a “relatively high level” in the next few years.

Raising concern about lawmakers’ delaying projects, he said: “I appeal to [Legislative Council] members to stop frustrating deliberations on funding proposals by filibustering tactics, so that livelihood projects can commence as early as possible for the benefit of the public.”

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The government should also “minimise drastic fluctuations in the volume of construction to avoid affecting the jobs and livelihood of the construction sector and causing spillover to other trades, which could ultimately rock the economy”.

Capital expenditure is forecast to be HK$107.2 billion for 2017-18, including HK$86.8 billion for capital works.

Infrastructure spending will rise in the next four years, the budget revealed: spending of the Capital Works Reserve Fund would increase to HK$104 billion in 2018-19, and to HK$130.8 billion in 2021-22.

The money will be spent on a host of works started in the past decade, including a HK$200 billion hospital development and a HK$31.9 billion Kai Tak Sports Park.

Infrastructure will account for the biggest part – 18.1 per cent – of total government expenditure in the coming year, followed by education (17.8 per cent), social welfare (16.4 per cent) and health (14.2 per cent).