Secretary for Transport & Housing Prof Anthony Cheung says the Government will take the additional funding request for constructing the Express Rail Hong Kong section directly to the Legislative Council Finance Committee.
He said today if the committee cannot approve funding by the end of February, the Government must consider suspending the project, which will lead to grave consequences, including billions in additional expenditure and further delay.
He said the Government must take this unusual step as the Finance Committee has only two scheduled meetings in February, totalling eight hours, to discuss the request. The Public Works subcommittee has so far spent six meetings and over 13 hours discussing the funding request.
Prof Cheung said the Government plans to submit 72 public works items for the subcommittee to discuss in this legislative year, but so far only five of them have been processed. Public services will be affected if the funding request is not sent directly to the committee.
The Government will speak with the committee’s chairman to arrange additional meetings to provide sufficient time for lawmakers to discuss the issue, he said, adding a decision should be made at the end.
The MTR Corporation approved an arrangement to cap the project’s expenditure yesterday. If the funding request cannot be approved by September 30 the agreement will lapse, he said.
To avoid the grave consequences entailed from the suspension of works, Prof Cheung said the Government decided to put forward the funding request directly to the committee.
Finance Committee to discuss rail funds