Following is a question by the Hon Tang Siu-tong and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, at the Legislative Council meeting today (December 11) :
It has been reported that the Director of Water Supplies has indicated that the Water Supplies Department (WSD) will have difficulty achieving the expenditure savings of 1.8 per cent in the next financial year, unless the Government allows WSD to cut back the less cost-effective water supply service to remote areas, and to operate other services in addition to water supply. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) regarding its undertaking to supply treated fresh water to 39 villages with some 8 240 villagers in stages from 2002 to 2006, whether the water supply projects concerned will fail to be completed as scheduled owing to the WSD's need to achieve savings; and
(b) whether WSD has assessed the feasibility of operating other services in addition to water supply; if so, of the anticipated revenue and risks arising from the provision of such services?
Government Departments are committed to achieve savings in accordance with the overall fiscal policies of the Government. The Water Supplies Department is no exception.
The water supply projects for the 39 villages mentioned in paragraph 19 of the discussion paper PWSC(2001-02)69 submitted by the then Works Bureau at the meeting of the Public Works Subcommittee held on 31 October 2001 have already been included in a number of Public Works Programme items. Up to now, the works for 10 out of those 39 villages have been completed and fresh water is being supplied to these 10 villages. The works for another 24 villages are in progress and expected to be completed in 2004. In line with standing Government practices, we are reviewing the priorities of the remaining five projects, taking into account project justification, economic efficiency, technical feasibility and government affordability.
The Water Supplies Department has not studied the feasibility of operating other services in addition to water supply.
End/Wednesday, December 11, 2002