Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 16):
I have learnt that since the resumption of the Wah Kai Industrial Centre (Wah Kai Centre) by the Administration in 2000, more than 100 factory operators have still not received reasonable compensation. Yet the Administration is still spending a huge amount of public money to engage consultants and experts to deal with the claims of the operators concerned. Some factory operators have even alleged that the consultants engaged by the Administration have deliberately delayed the settlement of claims, causing the expenditure on consultancy fees to increase substantially. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of factory operators of Wah Kai Centre who have been compensated as at December 2009 and the amount of compensation paid out;
(b) of the total amount of expenditure on engaging the aforesaid consultants or experts to date since the Administration announced the resumption of Wah Kai Centre in 1999; and
(c) whether the authorities will consider using arbitration as a means to deal with those cases of the factory operators of Wah Kai Centre whose claims have not yet been settled so as to expedite the provision of compensation and reduce the expenditure on engaging consultants; if they will, of the details, if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the question is as follows:
(1) As at December 3, 2009, we have processed a total of 954 cases of compensation claim since the resumption of Wah Kai Industrial Centre under the Railways Ordinance (Cap. 519) in 1999. Of the cases handled, 828 cases have been settled. The total amount of compensation and related payments paid out is $733,574,915.93.
(2) Consultants were commissioned in 2004 and 2008 to handle a total of 22 compensation claims from the industrial operators of Wah Kai Industrial Centre, of which 11 cases have started legal proceedings in the Lands Tribunal. As at December 3, 2009, a total of $681,000 was paid on consultancy fees.
(3) The Railways Ordinance has provided for the relevant mechanism for determination of claims: if an affected person (the claimant) fails to reach an agreement with the Government on the compensation claims, either the claimant or the Government may refer the case to the Lands Tribunal for determination. Henceforth, we do not see the need to institute a separate arbitration arrangement. Besides, the existing Government consultancy agreement has set a ceiling of consultancy fee for each claim, the lowest being $30,000 whilst the highest being $160,000, depending on the nature of the case.
Ends/Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:36