Paul Chan

Financial secretary Paul Chan’s new home gets HK$830,000 redecoration

Cost of project at official residence, which new financial secretary will probably only live in for four months, revealed after media reports

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 11:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 11:53pm

The financial secretary’s official residence will get a HK$830,000 makeover before its next tenant, Paul Chan Mo-po, moves in.

That figure is notably lower than the “millions of dollars” estimated in media reports last week, which raised eyebrows considering Chan’s tenure may only last for four months.

The financial secretary’s office issued a statement on Monday to rebut suggestions that the residence at 45 Shouson Hill Road, near Deep Water Bay, would undergo a lavish overhaul.

“With around 80 years of history, the residence is a grade two historic building which includes a two-storey house and an outdoor garden,” the statement read, adding that the last time the house received a major renovation was in 2007.

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“Considering the wear and tear spotted at the residence and its facilities, the relevant authorities suggested performing necessary repairs and restoration work according to established procedures following the departure of the previous financial secretary.

“These works are necessary for the residence’s maintenance.”

Of the project’s HK$830,000 cost, HK$390,000 is set aside for building repairs, HK$180,000 is expected to be spent on painting the outside walls, and replacing old furniture and equipment is expected to cost another HK$160,000. Changing old carpets will cost HK$40,000. An emergency fund accounts for the remaining HK$60,000.

“The works have begun and are expected to be completed by March. Following completion, the works would not have to be carried out again when the financial secretary for the next administration assumes office,” the statement added.

But Democratic Party legislator Lam Cheuk-ting, also a member of the Legislative Council’s public works subcommittee, asked how Chan could be so sure that the next financial secretary would be happy about the renovation and wouldn’t spend public money redecorating again when he or she takes office in July.

“He said the renovation for his official residence was needed because it was used to greet foreign guests. I went there last year, and I don’t feel that the reception areas and the garden were that old,” Lam said.

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A better solution, he suggested, was that the renovation be put on hold until the next financial secretary takes office in July.

Reports emerged on Friday that Chan, who took over the position of finance chief last month following the resignation of John Tsang Chun-wah, spent an estimated HK$2 million on renovating the residence.

Chan had already dismissed the sum the following day, but came up short when asked to provide a breakdown of the costs and said the amount would only be disclosed when the works were finished.

Another newly installed top official, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said he had no timetable for moving into Victoria House, his official residence on The Peak.