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Budget Speech

A Liveable City

49.    Hong Kong needs to keep investing in environmental infrastructure to ensure cleaner air, cleaner sea water, and better treatment of solid waste.  They are key to meeting the aspirations for healthy living and making Hong Kong an attractive place for all, locals as well as talents from abroad.

50.    An incentive-cum-regulatory approach to phase out all the 82 000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles by 2020 is being pursued.  We have earmarked $11.4 billion for the ex-gratia payment scheme, which will be open for application from 1 March.  For years, we have been promoting the use of electric vehicles by exempting them from First Registration Tax.  I propose to extend the tax exemption by three years up to 31 March 2017.

51.    The Harbour Area Treatment Scheme collects sewage from both sides of Victoria Harbour for centralised treatment at Stonecutters Island.  Stage 1 of the scheme has been completed at $8.3 billion.  As to Stage 2A, works are in progress at an estimated cost of $17.5 billion.  Upon the scheduled completion of the main works this year, the water quality of Victoria Harbour will further improve.  Sludge produced in the course of sewage treatment will be transferred to the Sludge Treatment Facility which will come into service this year.  The facility will turn the sludge into energy, while alleviating the burden on landfills.

52.    As for the management of municipal solid waste, we shall invest about $30 billion in waste recycling and treatment facilities.  We are pressing ahead with the provision of organic waste treatment facilities, community green stations, and waste electrical and electronic equipment processing facilities.  Government is also actively pursuing measures to support the long-term and sustainable development of the recycling industry by setting up a Recycling Fund, enhancing training, promoting green procurement, etc.  We are also actively taking forward the development of the Integrated Waste Management Facilities Phase 1 and the extension of the three landfills.

53.    70 to 80 per cent of Hong Kong's fresh water comes from Dongjiang.  Given the rising demand for fresh water in Guangdong Province and the challenge due to climate change, we shall endeavour to increase the supply of fresh water from local sources.  Government has reserved a site for the construction of a desalination plant, and the planning and investigation study will largely be completed early next year.  The desalination plant is expected to commence operation in 2020.  Although the initial annual output of the plant will account for just five to ten per cent of Hong Kong's total fresh water consumption, I believe seawater desalination can serve as an important water source for Hong Kong in the long run as technology advances.



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