Investing in Infrastructure
In his Policy Address, the Chief Executive said we will promote economic development through infrastructure projects, which will create more jobs and stimulate wage increases. Over the next few years, we will vigorously implement various infrastructure projects, including the ten major projects announced by the Chief Executive. Since the planning of these projects takes time, expenditure on infrastructure is unlikely to increase substantially within a short time.
Over the past two years, there has been a significant increase in the number and value of approved infrastructure projects and public works contracts awarded. We believe that more employment opportunities will be created in the construction industry in the next few years as these projects reach their construction peaks. Discounting the upfront endowment of $21.6 billion to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, the estimated expenditure on infrastructure projects will be $21.8 billion for 2008-09. It is expected that about 27 000 new construction jobs will be created.
I have instructed Controlling Officers and heads of works departments to closely monitor the planning progress of these projects. The Development Bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau will play a coordinating role to ensure that these projects will commence as soon as possible. The major transport infrastructure projects are progressing well. The MTR Corporation is working on the detailed design of the West Island Line, and has started the preliminary planning and design of the eastern section of the South Island Line. The review of the project proposals for the Sha Tin to Central Link and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link are near the final stage. It is expected that the study on a rail link between Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and Shenzhen Airport will be completed by the end of this year. The governments of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao are pushing ahead with preparations for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. We believe that the financial arrangements could be finalised shortly.
The Hong Kong-Shenzhen Joint Task Force on Boundary District Development has been established. The Task Force will give priority to two development projects at the new Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai control point and the Lok Ma Chau Loop. The Kai Tak Development, with its funding approval recently granted by this Council, has entered the construction stage. As for the projects on opening up new development areas in the Northwest New Territories, we will shortly submit a funding application to this Council to start a comprehensive assessment on the planning and construction of the projects as well as their impact on heritage sites.