Bid to stamp out abuse on govt subsidised projects
Things have just got a lot more difficult for unscrupulous contractors and criminal gangs hoping to cream off government subsidies for doing up old private buildings.
The Urban Renewal Authority and Hong Kong Housing Society are implementing new tendering arrangements for building contractors submitting tenders for renovation of old buildings under the government’s Operation Building Bright scheme.
Instead of three tender procedures originally handled by an Authorised Person, building management company, and/or owners’ corporation, an independent accounting firm appointed by the URA and HKHS would now handle the tender process.
A Certified Public Accountant will do the collecting, opening and recording of the expressions of interest, distributing tender documents, collecting and opening of the submitted tenders.
The latest move follows the launch two weeks ago of a crime prevention initiative, the Renosafe scheme, by an inter-governmental group led by the Hong Kong Police Force to drive out criminal activity on renovation work on old buildings.
The Renosafe scheme aims to prevent collusion by consultant firms, contractors and any persons using unlawful means to interfere with tendering and progress of renovation works.
The local Chinese news media carry reports from time to time of collusion by contractors and intimidation by criminal gangs tendering for the potentially lucrative business of renovating old buildings under the government’s Operation Building Bright Scheme.
In February 2009, the government launched the scheme with initial funding of HK$1 billion to do up old buildings and also provide employment for the construction industry in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
To qualify for a subsidy under the scheme, buildings have to be aged 30 years or more and have no more than 400 residential units.
So far the subsidy has risen to a total of HK$3.5 billion with over 3,200 buildings involved in the scheme.
“Through an impartial tendering platform, we hope to enhance the confidence of tender bidders and encourage them to proactively participate in the works tendering process providing their best bids, which in turn will help property owners find a reasonable and honest tender price among the many returned competitive tenders,” URA executive director Calvin Lam Che-leung said.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, the gross value of construction work in the second quarter of 2013 for locations other than sites, which means minor building works, renovation projects and such like, was about HK$16 billion, up 20.8 percent year-on-year.