Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said that the delays affecting infrastructure projects have made international commerce chambers in Hong Kong worried about the business environment in the city.
Lam was speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on the recent filibuster at the Legislative Council delaying infrastructure projects. She said that many international building contractors and consulting agencies wanted to bid for tenders in Hong Kong, but they knew that LegCo has only approved two out of 72 proposed projects, valued at just HK$5 billion, out of the proposed expenditure of HK$67.5 billion.
“Friends at the chambers have expressed their concerns to me,” Lam said.
Lam said the government will do their best to maintain the business environment in Hong Kong, and referred to the US-based Heritage Foundation having ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest economy for the 22nd consecutive year.
Lam also talked about getting approval for the extra funding to complete the express rail link, which is being discussed at LegCo on Tuesday.
The additional HK$19.6 billion funding was approved by the shareholders of the MTR Corporation on Monday, but the funding still needs to be passed by LegCo. If it is rejected, it will potentially terminate the project due to lack of funds.
She said that she hoped the funding will be passed on Tuesday, the last day when the Public Works Subcommittee meets before the Lunar New Year Holiday next week. But many pan-democratic lawmakers were sceptical that the funding will be approved.
“We are now facing an abnormal Legislative Council,” Lam said. “If it is not passed today, it will be a big difficulty for us to try to get the funding before the deadline when the express rail link project [funds were used up].”
She urged lawmakers to agree to forward the debate to the Finance Committee, which is the final stage before the funding is passed. If it was passed to the Finance Committee, it would allow more time to debate the funding before the deadline when the money will run out.