Official figures indicate slowing rate of increase
Driven by on-going government spending on public works, the construction industry continued to squeeze out a record value of output in 2013.
According to recent official statistics by the Census and Statistics Department, the total gross value of construction works performed by main contractors last year was HK$175.9 billion in nominal terms, a jump of nine percent compared with 2012.
This total is the highest ever when compared with available statistics that go back to 1984.
However in a sign that may cause some nervousness in the industry, the rate of increase appears to be slowing down.
For 2012, the rate of increase recorded was a formidable 25.6 percent while the figures for 2011 and 2010 were lower, at 15.5 percent and 10.2 percent respectively.
After taking into account the effect of inflation, the total gross value of construction work in 2013 increased by 2.4 percent in real terms to HK$129.5 billion.
For the fourth year running, the total value of construction work on public works exceeded that from the private sector, hitting a total of HK$62 billion in 2013, up 13.5 percent year-on-year.
In the private sector, contractors squeezed out output worth HK$49.4 billion, largely unchanged compared with that for 2012.
At sites other than construction sites, that is for work such as renovation work and small works projects, the total value of work performed was HK$64.6 billion, up 12.4 percent year-on-year.
“Analysed by end-use group, transport projects accounted for the largest share in the total gross value of construction works performed at construction sites in 2013,” the department said.
It recorded a total value of HK$41.6 billion for such work, up 36.6 percent compared with 2012.
Since 2010, the government has been splashing out public funds on high-profile projects related to transport such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and its affiliated projects and Central-Wanchai Bypass.
Meanwhile the 77 percent government owned railway operator MTR Corporation (0066) has been busy building five railway projects such as the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the South Island Line East Section.
The second largest end-user was residential building of which the gross value recorded for 2013 was HK38 billion, up slightly by 1.4 percent year-on-year.
The department did not offer reasons for the lower increase for residential building although resources being divered to meet public works contracts and difficulties in finding enough labour generally could perhaps be reasons.
Provisional figures for the last quarter of 2013 indicate a slowdown in output.
The gross value of work recorded during the fourth quarter increased slightly by 1.3 percent in nominal terms to HK$47.8 billion.
After stripping out the effects of inflation, the gross value of work in real terms actually went down, sliding by 3.9 percent to HK$34.4 billion.