LCQ12: Ten major infrastructure projects

     Following is a question by the Hon Raymond Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 9):


     The Chief Executive had put forward Ten major infrastructure projects in the 2007-2008 Policy Address.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that to meet the need of implementing the aforesaid infrastructure projects, the Government has stepped up efforts in providing manpower training for the construction industry in recent years, and introduced measures to attract more people to join the industry, whether the Government has, before introducing the relevant measures, conducted any assessment (including evaluating the situation after the completion of the Ten major infrastructure projects) on the long-term employment situation of the local construction industry; if it has, of the details;

(b) whether the Government has considered how to deal with the employment problems that employees in the construction industry may face after the completion of the Ten major infrastructure projects; and

(c) whether the authorities have conducted any planning in respect of the overall development situation of the construction industry after the completion of the Ten major infrastructure projects; if they have, of the details (including the number, scope, nature and works schedule of Categories B and C projects which have been planned or commenced at present)?



     The current term of HKSAR Administration is committed to implement the policy objective of promoting economic development through infrastructure investment, which has brought sustained impetus to the construction industry and the economy of Hong Kong.  With the commencement of various major infrastructure projects, the expenditure on capital works has risen progressively from $20.5 billion in 2007-08 to $58.4 billion in 2011-12.  In this financial year, the estimated expenditure on capital works will be up to $62.3 billion.  In the next few years, the capital works expenditure is expected to increase further to over $70 billion per year, thus providing sustained employment opportunities to the construction industry.  However, in construction manpower, we are facing the two major challenges of ageing and skills mismatch.

     My reply to three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) and (b) In anticipation of the various works projects, including the Ten major infrastructure projects coming on stream, the Development Bureau (DEVB) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC) have commissioned consultancy studies in 2007 and 2008 on the demand and supply of construction professionals, supervisors/technicians and workers respectively for the coming years.  In 2011, we also comprehensively assessed the estimated construction expenditure for all works projects in the next ten years, including those to be undertaken by the private sector and works projects further to the Ten major infrastructure projects, as well as comprehensively reviewed the latest manpower situation of the industry.  The findings indicated that notwithstanding that there would be adequate construction workers in total head count in the next few years, the industry is facing an acute ageing problem as well as skills mismatch in individual trades.  In the next 5-year period (around 2015 to 2020), it is anticipated that the ageing problem will become more severe, leading to a manpower shortage in the construction labour force.  According to the figures from the Construction Workers Registration Authority, at present over 40% of the construction workers are aged over 50 and will reach retirement age within the next ten years.  Only to address the ageing problem, we already need to attract and train up more new entrants to the industry.  Coupled with the need to deal with the skills mismatch in individual trades, the DEVB and CIC have adopted measures, including strengthening CIC's training and trade-testing functions and enhancing promotion and publicity, etc.  In this connection, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved a commitment of $100 million to support the enhanced training and promotional initiatives on May 28, 2010.  On April 20, 2012, we also sought approval of the Finance Committee to increase the commitment by $220 million to $320 million for further enhancing training for construction workers and supervisors/technicians.

     Following the implementation of the Construction Workers Registration Scheme in 2005, we are able to maintain a fuller grasp of the latest manpower situation of the local construction industry.  This has facilitated us and the CIC to update the above consultancy studies in the light of the latest developments in the economy and the labour market for projecting the future manpower demand and supply of the industry.  We will also review from time to time the implications of new projects on the construction manpower demand and collaborate with the CIC in implementing appropriate measures promptly and providing necessary training to ensure that there will be sufficient manpower resources to meet the latest project needs.

(c) While the Ten major infrastructure projects are strategic major infrastructural development projects, there are other capital works projects in Governments' Capital Works Programme.  In fact, not all of the Ten major infrastructure projects are entering into the construction stage at the same time. Taking the New Development Areas as an example, it is to cope with the housing demand and other needs brought about by population growth in Hong Kong in the next ten-year period.

     In addition to the Ten major infrastructure projects, we will continue to plan and study more public works projects of various scales to enhance the long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong and improve people's quality of life.  At present, there are as many as 400 new items in the planning stage under Category B and Category C.  They include projects on land planning and development, transport infrastructures, heritage conservation, fresh water supply, floodway, sewage discharge and waste treatment, environmental protection and greening, medical service, education, security, and recreational and cultural facilities.  Major projects that are at the initial planning/public consultation stage include projects on rock cavern development, reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, the proposed railways projects (including the Northern Link and the Tsuen Wan-Tuen Mun Railway) in the Railway Development Strategy 2000 currently under review, the third airport runway, seawater desalination, the Review of the Drainage Master Plans in East Kowloon and West Kowloon, and the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Stage 2B, etc.

Ends/Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:35