Secretary for Development speaks on Operation Building Bright

Following is the transcript (English portion) of the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, meeting the media at the Legislative Council today (June 10) on Operation Building Bright:

Reporter: Why do you expand the Operation Building Bright? Is it politically motivated?

Secretary for Development: I take this opportunity to update the media on the progress of Operation Building Bright (OBB).  As you will remember, we have originally assigned $1 billion from the Government, the Housing Society and also the Urban Renewal Authority to undertake OBB with the target of assisting about 1,000 buildings to do building maintenance over a three-year period.  The intention is to separate buildings into two categories.  The first category will be 500 buildings with owners’ corporations, so they could apply to join the OBB.  Another category of 500 buildings will be reserved for the Buildings Department to do building maintenance through statutory orders because these buildings normally do not have an owners’ corporation to arrange the works.

As far as the first category is concerned, the deadline for application closed last Saturday and we have received an overwhelming response with a total of 1,100 buildings with owners' corporations applying.  This is very good evidence that the demand has outstripped the supply in terms of funding. But we are very fortunate that when the Financial Secretary announced the additional relief measures on May 26, he has already allocated an additional $1 billion.  This time, the $1 billion comes entirely from the Government and so we will trigger this funding application process to get the extra $1 billion to be put into the OBB. So, by and large, I expect that we should be able to meet each and every one of the 1,000-plus applications, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria in terms of the age and number of units in the building.

The objective of doing OBB and to give this additional $1 billion is very simple.  We are faced with the economic crisis, and the unemployment situation, especially in the construction sector, is very high.  So we want to create more jobs for the construction sector and at the same time, of course, fulfilling our Development Bureau's mandate, to repair buildings in Hong Kong so that we all enjoy a better cityscape.

Reporter: Can you explain the timetable in triggering the funding applications?

Secretary for Development: We will lose no time in triggering these additional applications because I really want to tell the 1,100 owners' corporations that as far as they have put in applications, and as far as they meet the eligibility criteria, they will not be disappointed in undertaking building maintenance under the OBB.  So my intention is that we will go to Legislative Council’s Development Panel next Tuesday and with their support, and I am quite confident that they will support, we will put a funding application for another $1 billion to the Finance Committee on July 3, which means that we are able to complete the funding before the summer recess. So that the work would continue.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:56