Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Hok-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 6):
Given that the Government is currently expediting the implementation of various major and minor public works projects in the New Territories, will the Government inform this Council of:
(a) the respective categories, names, locations and estimated expenditures of the public works projects and works feasibility studies which will be implemented in the next three years (with the use of a table);
(b) the respective numbers of indigenous villages, licensed domestic structures and tenants of short-term tenancies that will be affected by the projects in (a), as well as the total number of residents who will be affected; and
(c) the ways by which the Government will compensate and rehouse the indigenous villagers and other residents who will be affected by the projects in (a); the respective numbers of cases in the past three years of people affected by government projects raising objection to the projects or to the compensation and rehousing packages concerned, as well as how such cases were eventually settled?
The Government is committed to promoting Hong Kong's economic development through infrastructure development. This strategy has become all the more important amidst the current economic downturn. The Government has been pressing ahead with the implementation of large, medium, and small scale projects. The annual expenditure in capital works projects increased from $20.5 billion in 2007-08 to $23.0 billion in 2008-09. The expenditure in 2009-10 will reach $39.3 billion.
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) In 2009-10, some 80 works projects will commence construction, and 39 of them are in the New Territories (including the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which is one of the ten major infrastructure projects). The total project estimates of these 39 projects are around $80 billion, and the estimated expenditure in 2009-10 in terms of cash flow is about $1.9 billion. The project titles, costs, locations and estimated expenditures in 2009-10 are detailed at Annex A.
Amongst the 39 works projects in the New Territories to commence construction this year, funding applications for 22 of them are pending submissions to the Legislative Council for approval. As such, the exact dates of commencement for these works projects cannot be ascertained until they have actually been approved.
As for the new projects scheduled to commence construction in 2010-11 and 2011-12, they are still at an early stage of implementation. Their progress will be affected by factors such as the statutory procedures for possible land acquisitions, administrative requirements as well as public objections, etc. In view of the above, we cannot provide accurate information on the new works projects which will commence construction in 2010-11 and 2011-12 at this stage.
It is anticipated that 13 works studies will commence in 2009-10, nine of which involve works in the New Territories (details at Annex B). They include three of the ten major infrastructure projects, namely the planning and design of the Hong Kong Section of the Hong Kong–Shenzhen Airport Rail Link; the review study and site investigation of the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area; and the planning, feasibility study and site investigation of the Lok Ma Chau Loop. As for other projects scheduled to commence study in 2010-11 and 2011-12, they are still in the technical feasibility study stage. Subject to confirmation of their technical feasibility, we will prioritise these projects by taking into account factors including their justifications, urgency and cost-effectiveness, etc. At this stage, we do not have the exact dates of commencement for these projects.
(b) Based on available information, the works projects mentioned in part (a) will affect a total of 30 indigenous villages and 211 temporary licensed structures and short-term tenancies, involving a total of about 1,405 inhabitants. The details are listed at Annex A and Annex B. These figures are only rough estimates. More accurate information can only be provided after land acquisition has begun for the works projects.
(c) If land resumption is required for the works projects, the Government will make compensation to affected owners under the relevant ordinances and the existing policies. As far as owners of agricultural lands are concerned, the amount of compensation will be calculated on the basis of the registered area of the lot and the relevant ex-gratia compensation rate. As for owners of building lands, the amount of compensation will be assessed on the basis of valuation of the lot plus the relevant ex-gratia compensation. Registered owner of building lands who is eligible under the village removal policy will be offered: (i) a building allowance by the Government to the owner to build a resite village house on suitable agricultural land owned by him or on suitable government land; or (ii) an ex-gratia compensation equivalent to the market value of the village house. Regarding eligible residents affected, they will be allocated public rental housing or interim housing by the Housing Department under the existing policy. If the owner does not accept the ex-gratia compensation offered, he may submit a compensation claim under the relevant ordinances. If his compensation claim remains unresolved, he may refer to the claim to the Lands Tribunal for decision.
In the past three legislative sessions, the Government submitted some 280 projects to the Legislative Council for funding approval. Objections were received in respect of 40 projects after gazettal. We do not have statistics on the number of cases of objections to the compensation and rehousing packages. On the other hand, among the works projects mentioned in part (a) above, objections were received in respect of 11 of them after gazettal. Related works departments have held / will hold meetings with the objectors to understand their concerns and discuss with them possible mitigation measures with a view to addressing their concerns. The works departments will make appropriate modifications as far as practicable to the works so as to mitigate the impact to the inhabitants. If the objections remain unresolved despite efforts made by the works departments, the details of the objections will be submitted to the Chief Executive in Council for consideration. The Chief Executive in Council will give due consideration to all the grounds of the objections as well as such factors as the need and urgency of the works projects, etc. and then decide whether or not to authorise them pursuant to the relevant ordinances in the public interest.
Ends/Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:55