Kai Tak Sports Hub - funding approval delayed again after Legco Finance Committee adjourns meeting
Councillors fail to discuss the HK$62.7 million for pre-construction work after six hours of debate on three agenda items
Approval of HK$62.7 million in funding for pre-construction work to be done on the Kaitak sports hub has been delayed yet again after the Legislative Council Finance Committee was adjourned on Fruday night without even discussing the topic.
The funding approval for the Kai Tak Multi-purpose Sports Complex (MPSC) was item number seven on the agenda, but councillors only managed to complete discussions – which lasted six hours – on three items before the meeting was adjourned to July 3.
On Thursday, the government had been optimistic the HK$62.7 million would finally be granted on the proposed MPSC, despite warnings of a lengthy and controversial debate.
Senior official Jonathan McKinley is hoping it will be passed swiftly so work can start on the new hub, which will have a 50,000-seater stadium with a retractable roof by 2021.
"We are expecting this item to be discussed at the Legco Finance Committee on Friday," said McKinley, deputy secretary for Home Affairs, on Thursday. "Once the funding is approved, we will be able to issue tenders for pre-construction work.
"We can then appoint technical and quantity surveying consultants who will help us scope out the technical issues related to the development of the complex and provide a detailed cost estimate for the main design, construction and operation contract," McKinley said.
The initial funding has been delayed numerous times in Legco, initially by the public works subcommittee, which dragged the issue from early this year before giving its consent after three meetings.
It was again pushed back last month after the government took the request off the agenda because of fears another issue over the new high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou would overshadow it.
Finance Committee chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said on Tuesday new sessions would be added to deal with all the items the government had brought forward, but singled out the Kai Tak sports hub as a controversial issue and a lengthy debate was likely.
But McKinley remained hopeful and optimistic funding would be granted to start the project, which is estimated to cost HK$25 billion. Further delays would mean extra costs.
"Even if we do not secure the funding on Friday, there are further meetings scheduled before the summer recess and we will work with Legco to secure the money before mid-July.
"If the funding is approved before the summer, we should be on course for beginning construction in 2017 and completing the project by 2021," McKinley said.
The Kai Tak MPSC item is not the first on the agenda for today, but the government is confident the other issues will be quickly dealt with.
"The items scheduled to be discussed before the MPSC pre-construction work are all related to welfare and people's livelihood, and based on earlier statements from Legco members, we believe these should be dealt with reasonably swiftly, which would allow time for discussion of the MPSC item," McKinley said.