Date
21 September 2017
Legislative Councilor Ma Fung-kwok has urged the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to simplify plans for the arts hub site to contain rising costs. Photo: HKEJ
Legislative Councilor Ma Fung-kwok has urged the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to simplify plans for the arts hub site to contain rising costs. Photo: HKEJ

Arts hub authority under fire over spiraling costs

A legislative councilor has urged the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority to streamline plans for the arts hub after estimated costs for a 17-hectare basement at the site ballooned to HK$23 billion (US$2.96 billion) from HK$10 billion projected a year ago.

Several legislators said they were shocked by the latest cost estimates presented to the Legislative Council Wednesday, expressing concern that the overall construction cost could escalate to HK$60 billion.

Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday that the government’s original HK$21.6 billion endowment for the project has already grown to HK$23.7 billion, and another HK$23 billion will be needed to fund the overall scheme.

Legislative Councilor Ma Fung-kwok, who is also a member of the cultural district authority, said he is very concerned about the rising costs, calling on the government to simplify the development to keep expenses down.

Legco member Emily Lau Wai-hing also accused the authority of losing control of its finances, criticism echoed by fellow councilor Chan Yuen-han, who urged the authority to detail its upcoming expenditure.

Authority chairwoman Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the authority has made every effort to tighten outlays to ensure the cost of each part of the project is kept as close as possible to original estimates, Sing Tao Daily reported.

Lam said the integrated basement is a key part of the project’s “city park” concept, which will hide all the public transport infrastructure underground. The basement is also a solution to meet the town planning brief of creating 23 hectares of public open space at the site, Lam added.

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