Builders push for projects as Legco set to reopen

Local | Charlotte Luo 10 Oct 2019

The Construction Industry Council has called on the Legislative Council, which reconvenes next week, to speed up approval of public works, saying HK$70 billion worth of projects have yet to get the green light.

Legco has approved less than half of public work projects planned for he 2018/19 fiscal year, it said yesterday.

Of HK$140.2 billion in public works funding proposals endorsed by the public works subcommittee, only HK$69 billion was approved by the finance committee, the council said, adding that overall construction output has dropped 8.4 percent in this fiscal year.

Chairman Chan Ka-kui said overall construction expenditure should be at HK$200 billion to HK$250 billion each year to maintain the stable and healthy development of the industry, as well as the livelihood of its 144,000 workers.

Executive director Albert Cheng Ting-ning said many workers in the industry are facing underemployment and that the volume of work has been unstable of late due to the delays in project funding.

"The continual decrease in construction output is affecting livelihoods," Cheng said.

Council member Chow Luen-kiu, also a union affairs consultant at the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, said the salaries of bricklayers and metal form-work erectors have fallen by 14 and 7.5 percent, respectively, year on year.He said working days used to average 20, but a third have now been lost.

The council stressed that a healthy supply of projects is vital for growth and sustainable development of the industry.

"It is hoped that Legco can approve the funding proposals for capital works projects in the short term to avoid an increase of unemployment rate, to maintain the productivity of public works projects and meet livelihood needs," the council said.

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