With regard to the article by Albert Lai Kwong-tak on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront enhancement program (HKEJ, Aug. 25), we feel compelled to clarify a lot of inaccurate and even misleading statements.
The Western Harbour Tunnel and the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre in Tsing Yi, the two facilities Lai cited in his article, were actually funded and built by private companies, which then recovered their investment through the profits generated by the operation of those facilities.
These projects are profit-driven and are completely different in nature from the Tsim Sha Tsui Harbourfront (including the Avenue of Stars) enhancement program, which is a non-profit program.
New World Development will not be allowed to recover the cost of renovation by making profit out of the new waterfront. In fact, NWD has no intention of doing so.
Although the new facilities will provide a gross floor area of around 80,000 square feet, it will mostly be occupied by machine rooms and toilets, while space designated for retail and catering only accounts for 2.4 percent of the total area, or 9,000 sq ft.
This means the profit potential of the enhancement program is very little, not to mention that any surplus income will have to be turned over to the government after the franchise agreement expires.
As a matter of fact, the guidelines Lai mentioned in his article only apply to profit-seeking investment programs, and clearly the harbourfront enhancement program doesn’t fall in this category.
It was only after careful and thorough consideration that the administration finally accepted the non-profit enhancement proposal that NWD put forward. Since the plan is not a procurement project, there is no need for open tendering.
It is also far from the truth that the management rights of the new harbourfront will be controlled by business conglomerates.
In fact, the entire site will be managed by a non-profit organization on behalf of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and the daily operation and performance of the organization will be subject to strict government oversight.
Later, we will set up a consultation committee through which we can listen to the views of community members and independent professionals on the enhancement program, so that we can manage this valuable piece of public land with fairness, transparency and in the best public interest.
Why TST harbourfront project grant to NWD is unfair (Aug. 25, 2015)
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