Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po has urged lawmakers to refrain from filibustering the upcoming Public Works Subcommittee’s session, which is to assess about HK$90 billion worth of funding proposals for 39 new projects.
The subcommittee is tasked with examining and making recommendations to the Finance Committee on the government’s expenditure proposals for public works projects. The first session on the funding proposals is scheduled for Wednesday.
Chan wrote on his blog on Sunday that filibustering by lawmakers over the last few years has made his department’s work difficult. In comparison, he said, the legislature previously used to support the government’s funding requests – even if they were worth tens of billions of Hong Kong dollars.
He said that in 2014, his department sought HK$50 billion of funding for new projects, but received only HK$3.6 billion.
“This had delayed construction projects, disrupted tendering timetables, caused the sector to be at a loss as to what to do, affected the livelihoods of workers and prevented residents from enjoying the benefits of these projects,” Chan wrote.
The development chief urged the legislature to “abandon the unhealthy culture of filibustering” and overcome their political differences in dealing with public works.
He added that given the high demand for more public facilities, land, housing and hospital beds, Hong Kong should strive to increase its competitiveness so as not to be outpaced by neighbouring cities.
In a rare move, the government attempted in February to bypass the Public Works Subcommittee in order to speed up a funding request for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link, totalling about HK$19.6 billion of public money.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung did so by forwarding the funding debate to the Finance Committee, which approved the request, amid a chaotic scene as lawmaker Chan Kam-lam, who chaired the debate, ordered around 20 pan-democrats to leave the room.