Transcript of remarks by CS and SDEV at media session (with video)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; and the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, met the media after visiting Kwun Tong Mansion, a building renovated with subsidies granted under the Operation Building Bright scheme, this morning (November 20). Following is the transcript of remarks by Mrs Lam and Mr Chan:

Reporter: Mrs Lam, could you explain how exactly the Government is going to combat bid rigging in building renovation projects, and why do you think this project has been successful?

Chief Secretary for Administration: I'll answer the second question about this project and then I'll invite the Secretary for Development to share with you some of his views about tackling that issue.

     The Operation Building Bright was a programme introduced in the year 2009 for two main reasons. One was, following the financial tsunami, we recognised there was a high unemployment rate in the construction sector, particularly in the repairs and decoration sector. It was as high as 21 per cent in terms of unemployment rate. The second reason was Hong Kong's buildings are ageing, so we then thought that we should do more in order to arrest the building decay, and redevelopment by the URA (Urban Renewal Authority) is not the only solution, because we also go for building rehabilitation. So, for both reasons, we introduced the Operation Building Bright and injected a total of $3.5 billion into the programme. But a lot of credit has to go to the two agencies, which are the URA and also the Hong Kong Housing Society, to administer this programme on behalf of the Government.

     This programme has been extremely effective. In terms of job creation, some 48,700 jobs have been created and as a result the unemployment rate has dropped significantly to merely over 4 per cent now. As far as the number of buildings that have been assisted, the programme has helped some 3,000 old buildings to undergo these major repairs that we have seen today at this particular building, which is exactly 50 years old. So I would say that, from both scores, the Operation Building Bright is an extremely effective programme.

Secretary for Development: The Government is very concerned about possible tender rigging in the community. Over the years, the Urban Renewal Authority and the Hong Kong Housing Society have been extending assistance to private building owners in building repair and maintenance works, including introducing a tendering process to ensure that it is open, transparent, fair and competitive, so that there would be appropriate bids for the owners to choose. In addition, the Authority is providing independent consulting service to private building owners, so that they have the basis to assess the bids received and ensure that the prices asked by the bidders are reasonable. I understand that the Urban Renewal Authority is taking stock of the experience over the years in this respect, and we are in discussion as to how to take this forward to extend such assistance to other private building owners. When the measures are devised, we will announce it to the public. Thank you.

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

Ends/Friday, November 20, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:15