New People’s Party lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun threatened to vote against any additional budget for the delayed Guangzhou- Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link if the rail operator does not agree to pay at least HK$5.3 billion of the projected HK$20.3 billion overrun.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the government has completed a preliminary scrutiny of the report submitted by MTR Corp Ltd on the extra cost and is now in talks with the company over who should foot the bill.
But Tien told RTHK yesterday taxpayers should not be asked to pay since the cost overrun is largely the result of mismanagement.
Tien said he met Frederick Ma Si-hang, who will replace Raymond Ch’ien Kuo-fung as MTRCL Board chairman next year, and Ma had told him about a written contract that favors the rail operator should it be unable to pay the extra costs.
According to the latest MTRCL projection, the rail link will cost HK$85.3 billion, some HK$20.3 billion more than its previous estimate.
Tien said MTRCL must pay HK$5.3 billion more to cover the overrun with the rest to be paid by the government.
He said if the MTRCL insists on not paying a penny more, he will vote against the increased budget when it is placed before the Legislative Council.
Tien also said the MTRCL should have a completion target in the third quarter of 2018 in return for capping the costs at HK$85.3 billion.