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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (12)

Building the Community

Promoting Building Maintenance

117. Last month, an old building at Ma Tau Wai Road, Hung Hom, collapsed.  While the cause is still under investigation, the incident has aroused public concern over the problem of building safety.  The responsibility for building maintenance rests with property owners.  They must promptly carry out inspections and maintenance of their properties.  In this connection, we hope that the legislative process of the relevant bill could be completed at the earliest possible time for the prompt implementation of the Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme and Mandatory Window Inspection Scheme.

118. In conjunction with the Hong Kong Housing Society and the URA, the Government has introduced a number of support measures in the past few years to provide property owners in need with technical and financial assistance for carrying out building repair and maintenance works.  Last year, I launched the $2 billion "Operation Building Bright" campaign to provide one-stop assistance for the repair and maintenance of about 2 000 buildings aged 30 years or above.

119. To provide timely assistance to more owners of old buildings to repair their properties, I propose to allocate additional funding of $500 million for "Operation Building Bright" to provide targeted assistance to those owners who cannot co-ordinate maintenance works on their own, including owners of dilapidated buildings without owners' corporations.

Redeveloping Old Areas

120. For aged buildings in disrepair in old areas, redevelopment is an option that can better improve the living environment of residents and protect public safety.  To tackle the increasing number of old buildings, we need to review afresh the Urban Renewal Strategy and the role of the URA.  The Development Bureau will complete the review of the Urban Renewal Strategy by the end of this year and map out new directions.  In response to the redevelopment requests from owners of old buildings, we have also proposed to lower the compulsory sale application threshold for buildings aged 50 years or above from 90 to 80 per cent.

121. In order to resolve the problem of old buildings in disrepair in the vicinity of the collapsed building on Ma Tau Wai Road, and to improve the living environment of the hundreds of households there and relieve their fears and worries, I have agreed to the URA taking forward immediately a redevelopment project at that location.  It will cover old buildings in 33 street numbers on Ma Tau Wai Road, Hok Yuen Street and Chun Tin Street.  The URA will embark on the necessary freezing survey today.

Promoting Arts, Culture and Sports

122. To provide the necessary support to the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, I will allocate additional funding of $486 million over the next five financial years.  The funding will be used for measures such as art programme development, audience building and enhancement of art education and manpower training.  We will support art groups and artists in developing their brand performances and step up the promotion of public art and popular cultural and art activities, with a view to integrating art into our community.  At the same time, we will strengthen the promotion of arts in schools to develop young people's interest in arts and culture and their appreciation abilities in these areas.  We will organise training programmes to provide training and internship opportunities for people who aspire to a career in arts and culture.

123. Cantonese opera has become our first item of world intangible cultural heritage.  To further preserve it as an art form, I propose to draw $69 million from the additional funding just announced and inject it into the Cantonese Opera Development Fund.  In the next financial year, we will also request the Legislative Council to approve funding of approximately $730 million for constructing an annex building with a medium-sized theatre and training facilities at the Ko Shan Theatre.  I expect that the existing and the new theatres of the Ko Shan Theatre and the Yau Ma Tei Xiqu Activity Centre under construction will become dedicated venues that attract audience to watch Cantonese opera performances.

124. During the East Asian Games last year, Hong Kong athletes achieved unprecedented success.  We will seize this opportunity to encourage various sectors of the community to give continued support to our athletes and to the development of sports programmes and facilities.  We will also facilitate greater participation in sports and the organisation of major sports events to increase public interest in sports.

125. To further promote the development of sports and arts, I propose to inject $3 billion into the Arts and Sport Development Fund as seed money and use the annual investment return of the Fund to provide sustainable additional resources for subsidising the long-term development of sports, culture and arts.

Campaigning Against Drug Abuse

126. In response to the Government's anti-drug policy, I have already allocated additional funding of $52 million in 2010-11 to support anti-drug efforts of the departments concerned.  Furthermore, to encourage the community to join hands in combating drug abuse, I propose to inject $3 billion into the Beat Drugs Fund.  The money, together with donations from different sectors, will yield a larger investment return to the Fund and enable it to increase its annual funding for the community to make an all-out effort in taking forward various anti-drug initiatives.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 12:16


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