Date
17 December 2017
The government is blaming budget overruns in nine major infrastructure projects on rising labor and material costs but industry sources say it has simply taken on too much. Photo: HKEJ
The government is blaming budget overruns in nine major infrastructure projects on rising labor and material costs but industry sources say it has simply taken on too much. Photo: HKEJ

Infrastructure overspending to cost each HK person HK$22,000

Overspending in nine major infrastructure projects will cost each Hong Kong person the equivalent of HK$22,000, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.  

These include the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which has overshot its budget by 55 percent, or HK$8.9 billion (US$1.15 billion) in the past nine months alone.

Six of the projects, which were proposed in 2007 by the government of Donald Tsang, have seen their spending balloon by more than 60 percent, according to Legislative Council documents.

Of these, spending on a highway project linking Tuen Mun and Chek Lap Kok saw the biggest jump at HK$26.7 billion, up 134 percent, the report said.

Meanwhile, a high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou has overrun its budget by HK$27.5 billion bringing the price tag to HK$71.5 billion.

The government blamed the increases on higher prices of construction materials and rising wages.

However, industry sources said the government has been hit by claims from contractors over changes to the projects.

A government spokesman said large-scale projects cannot avoid various challenges such as price changes, legal claims and extended public consultations that cause delays.

Albert Lai, chairman of The Professional Commons, a public policy think tank, said the government has only itself to blame for taking on so many high-ticket projects simultaneously.

Also, he said unexpected changes stemming from poor project management and sloppy pre-construction work, have often led to contractors suing for costs . 

Rail operator MTR had received 695 claims as of end-September worth HK$14.74 billion.

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