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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (6)

Investing in Infrastructure

89. To foster economic development and enhance the quality of life of our people, we shall continue to plan and take forward infrastructure projects.  The estimated capital works expenditure for 2013-14 exceeds $70 billion.  By late March 2013, our total commitments for capital projects are expected to be over $310 billion.

90. As for traffic infrastructure, the construction of five new railway lines is now under way.  Our railway network will extend to Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town in 2014, and further to Wong Chuk Hang and Ap Lei Chau, as well as Ho Man Tin and Whampoa in 2015.  The construction of the Shatin to Central Link, a railway that traverses the territory, has commenced and will be completed in phases in 2018 and 2020.  Upon completion, our railway network will cover an area within which over 70 per cent of Hong Kong's population lives.

91. Major road projects include the Central-Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor Link.  Upon completion in 2017, the existing traffic congestion from Central to Wan Chai and the adjoining areas will be alleviated.  We shall seek funding approval for the detailed design of a second tunnel linking Tseung Kwan O and urban Kowloon.  We also plan to commence construction of the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link within this year.  The Southern Connection will be commissioned first to tie in with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in 2016, followed by the Northern Connection.

92. As for healthcare, the construction of the North Lantau Hospital was completed in late 2012 and the hospital will come into operation in phases this year.  The expansion of Tseung Kwan O Hospital and the phase two redevelopment of Caritas Medical Centre will also be completed in 2013 and 2014 respectively.  We are preparing for the redevelopment of Queen Mary Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital and United Christian Hospital.  The estimated costs will be as high as $25 billion.  In addition, we plan to use $20 billion for the construction and refurbishment of several public hospitals and clinics, including the construction of Tin Shui Wai Hospital and the Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics, the refurbishment of Hong Kong Buddhist Hospital as well as the reprovisioning of the Yau Ma Tei Specialist Clinic.

93. The Government will continue to provide various sports facilities for the public.  The new indoor heated pool complex at Victoria Park is expected to come into operation in the third quarter of this year.  We shall seek funding approval for the construction of an indoor stadium with a heated pool in Tsing Yi.  Upon completion of the project, there will be 25 heated pools for public use in Hong Kong.

94. Construction works of the velodrome in Tseung Kwan O will be completed in the second half of this year.  We are also taking forward in phases the development of a cycle track network connecting the East and West New Territories.  The construction of the Ma On Shan-Sheung Shui section is expected to complete by end-2013.  We plan to seek funding approval this year to construct part of the Sheung Shui-Yuen Long section.

95. We shall continue to invest in environmental infrastructure to improve our environment.  On water quality, we have completed the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Stage 1, and there has been significant improvement in the overall water quality of Victoria Harbour.  Stage 2A of the Scheme, a $17.6 billion project, is scheduled for completion in 2014.  To further reduce waste at source, we are pressing ahead with the first phase development of the organic waste treatment facilities in Siu Ho Wan, Lantau.  Scheduled for commissioning in 2016, the facilities will convert food waste into energy and compost products.  We have also earmarked $500 million to set up waste electrical and electronic equipment processing facilities as well as five community green stations to encourage public participation in waste reduction and recycling.

96. Fresh water resources in the Mainland are limited, and the demand for Dongjiang water in Guangdong Province is on the rise.  In face of scarce resources, we must encourage our people through public education to save water, and explore new water sources so as to ensure sustainable supply for Hong Kong amid climate change and population growth.

97. Last year, we started a detailed planning and investigation study, including an assessment of the feasibility and cost-effectiveness, for the construction of a desalination plant on a reserved site in Tseung Kwan O, with a view to tapping sea water as a water source.  Although the anticipated output capacity of the desalination plant will only account for five to ten per cent of Hong Kong's total water consumption, we hope that as technology advances and costs go down in the future, seawater desalination can serve as another water supply source and help reduce our reliance on other water sources in the long term.

98. With the major infrastructure projects entering their construction peaks, it is estimated that capital works expenditure will increase to over $70 billion for each of the next few years, far exceeding the average annual expenditure of about $40 billion in the past five years.  These large infrastructure projects create a large number of jobs which are particularly crucial in times of uncertain economic outlook.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:02


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