Following is a question by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, at the Legislative Council meeting today (November 13) :
In order to increase the employment opportunities of local construction workers and reduce construction waste, some people in the trade have suggested developing precast concrete structure manufacturing industry in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the major places of origin of precast concrete structures used in public and private construction works at present;
(b) whether it has plans to provide tax and land concessions to attract enterprises to set up precast concrete structure production plants or casting yards in Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) whether it has plans to assist the trade in conducting research and testing on the production of precast concrete structures with recycled construction waste, so as to reduce production cost and construction waste; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
(a) At present, the major place of origin for precast concrete structures used in public and private construction works is Guangdong Province.
(b) Hong Kong maintains a low, simple and predictable tax regime. The Government levies the same tax to all business sectors, providing a low-tax environment and a level playing field. At this stage, it has no plan to provide tax concession exclusively for precast concrete structures. In preparing the annual Budget, the Government will follow the established practice to review the various types of tax.
On land policy, the Government is committed to providing adequate land to meet market needs, support infrastructural development and facilitate the steady development of property market. The existing land grant arrangement provides a fair competition and open mechanism for attracting local and overseas investors to develop their business in Hong Kong.
If a plan proposes the production of precast concrete structures in Hong Kong in order to create employment opportunities, full justification must be given with regard to the particular circumstances of the individual proposal. Government will study the feasibility of the proposal.
(c) In order to facilitate and assist local enterpriss in conducting research and promote future development projects, the Government set up the Innovation and Technology Fund in 1999 to fund such projects. As the funding is not restricted to a particular enterprise, applications may also be made for funding projects relating to construction industry and environmental protection. Since the establishment of the Fund, one application has been received for funding a project to produce precast concrete structures with recycled construction and demolition (C&D) waste. The project is a cooperation scheme between a university and an enterprise.
The Government is also committed to promoting wider use of recycled C&D materials in public works projects. In conjunction with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, we are studying the feasibility of using recycled C&D materials in lieu of virgin aggregates in producing pre-cast concrete paving blocks. In situ tests are also being conducted to ascertain the long-term performance of such paving blocks. The study and the tests are scheduled for completion in June 2003. Subject to satisfactory results, such paving blocks will be more widely used in public works projects.
End/Wednesday, November 13, 2002