Owners' corporations (OCs) of eligible buildings can apply to join "Operation Building Bright" from today (May 7) to carry out repair work in common areas of buildings to improve the living environment for residents.
The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, today signed the Memoranda of Understanding on the "Operation Building Bright" with the Chairman of Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS), Mr Yeung Ka-sing, and the Chairman of Urban Renewal Authority (URA), Mr Barry Cheung, to mark the launch of the scheme which aims to create jobs.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mrs Lam said, "This $1 billion scheme, funded and implemented by the Government, HKHS and URA, will create about 10,000 jobs for building repair and maintenance workers in the next two years. It will also provide subsidies to about 1,000 buildings for carrying out repair work to upgrade building safety and beautify the cityscape."
She said the scheme was a large-scale campaign that could reap "quick" benefits. To reap "quick" benefits, there are two major characteristics of "Operation Building Bright".
First, it is "building-based" - a breakthrough in the Government's building maintenance incentive scheme. Once a building is selected as a target building, owners of residential and commercial units in the building will be subsidised without the need to undergo income or asset means tests. A grant amounting to 80% of the cost of repair of the common areas, subject to a ceiling of $16,000, will be provided. Elderly owner-occupiers aged 60 or above can receive a grant to cover the full cost of repair of common areas, subject to a ceiling of $40,000.
Second, it targets buildings having difficulties in co-ordinating repair works, such as buildings without OCs. The Buildings Department will get directly involved in these cases and serve statutory repair orders. If the orders are not complied with, the Buildings Department will directly arrange contractors to carry out the repair works.
Target buildings of the operation will be divided into two categories: buildings with OCs (Category 1) and buildings without OCs or those with difficulties in co-ordinating repair works (Category 2).
For Category 1 buildings, OCs can obtain application forms from HKHS or URA and submit their applications starting today. The application period lasts for one month. A computer ballot will be conducted after the application period to determine the priorities of the eligible buildings. The OCs will be advised of the application results in late-June at the earliest. Upon receipt of the approval-in-principle for participating as a target building under Category 1 of the "Operation Building Bright", the OCs can then proceed to appoint authorised persons and contractors to start the works.
For Category 2 buildings, a steering committee with representatives from Buildings Department, HKHS and URA will select buildings having difficulties in co-ordinating repair works, structural safety problems and defective sanitary facilities as target buildings. It is estimated that this category will involve about 500 buildings.
To create jobs as soon as possible, the Buildings Department will deploy resources to advance the repair works for Category 2 target buildings by the end of May. It is estimated that repair works for an average of 25 buildings will be started each month.
Mrs Lam said the Government was very concerned with the operating environment of small and medium contractors under the financial tsunami. To allow more contractors, including the small and medium ones, to benefit under the operation, the Buildings Department will divide up the repair works. Apart from the existing two term contractors, an additional 20 term contractors and 20 consultants will be commissioned in the next two years for repair works under the "Operation Building Bright".
HKHS and URA will also work closely with the Independent Commission Against Corruption and take various measures to prevent irregularities in the tendering process and the conduct of repair work.
For more details about the "Operation Building Bright", please call HKHS at 2839 7180 or URA at 2588 2333, or visit their websites (http://www.hkhs.com/ / http://www.ura.org.hk/).
Ends/Thursday, May 7, 2009
Issued at HKT 18:58