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LCQ20: Signature Project Scheme

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Kenneth Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


     The Chief Executive announced in his 2013 Policy Address that the Government would earmark a one-off provision of $100 million for each District Council (DC) to implement projects under the Signature Project Scheme (projects). Various DCs may decide on their own to carry out projects which will address local needs or highlight the characteristics of the districts, and are responsible for conducting the relevant district consultation, formulating implementation plans, monitoring project progress and conducting effectiveness assessments, etc. Various DCs are required to follow the established procedures to consult the relevant committees of this Council on those projects and obtain funding approvals from the Finance Committee (FC) of this Council before implementing such projects. Besides, the Home Affairs Department has reserved a funding of $300,000 for application by each DC on a need basis to conduct preliminary studies, publicity and public consultation as well as public engagement activities for its proposed projects prior to seeking funding approvals from FC. The 18 DCs in the territory have put forward a total of 27 projects. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of the studies and consultation work carried out by the various DCs for their proposed projects, including (i) the names of the organisations commissioned to conduct the studies, (ii) the dates on which the studies were conducted, (iii) the contents of the studies, (iv) the study approaches, (v) the expenditure on the studies, (vi) the nature of public consultation activities, (vii) the approaches of public consultation, (viii) the dates of public consultation, (ix) the parties consulted, and (x) the number of submissions received (set out in Annex 1);

(2) how the authorities will deal with the situation in which a DC has shelved a certain project of its own accord or the funding proposal of a certain project is not approved by FC, including whether they will provide resources to the DC concerned once again for carrying out afresh the studies and consultation work for the project in question; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) given that some members of the community have relayed to me that due to deficiencies in the studies and consultation work carried out by some DCs for their proposed projects, local residents were unable to grasp sufficient information about and the justifications for those projects, making it difficult for them to express their views on different proposed projects, whether the authorities will consider conducting reviews on the studies and consultation work for various projects and making public the outcome thereof; if they will, of the details of the reviews; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) whether the Director of Audit will consider conducting value-for-money audits on all the projects (including the decision-making and consultation processes relating to the proposed projects and project implementation) for which funding approvals have been given by FC; if he will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     To enhance district administration, the Chief Executive announced in his 2013 Policy Address the implementation of the Signature Project Scheme (SPS).  For this purpose, a one-off allocation of $100 million has been earmarked for each District Council (DC) to implement one to two local projects of a larger scale.  Apart from advocating and deciding the SPS projects, the DCs are also responsible for spearheading their implementation, including conducting district consultation, preparing implementation plans, monitoring project progress and assessing project effectiveness.

     Prior to seeking funding approval from the Finance Committee (FC) of the Legislative Council (LegCo), pre-construction work have to be completed on each SPS project, including confirming by the DC concerned, after discussion, that the selected project could meet local needs and conducting public consultation.  Should the projects involve works components, the DCs shall follow the established procedures to conduct related studies, including technical feasibility study, site investigation, topographical and tree surveys, underground utility mapping, drainage and traffic impact assessments, building services survey and  heritage impact assessment (as appropriate).   In addition, the DCs will obtain support from the LegCo Panel on Home Affairs (HA Panel) before seeking funding approval from the FC.

(1) Details of the studies and consultation carried out by DCs for their proposed projects are at Annexes 2 and 3.

(2) In the process of finalising the SPS projects, the DCs may, due to reasons such as public opinions, financial viability and technical feasibility, decide not to adopt the original proposals and identify alternative projects.  However, as mentioned above, any funding applications on the SPS projects submitted to the FC have successfully completed the relevant pre-construction work, including the DCs having agreed on the selected projects and obtained the support from the HA Panel.  We hope that the FC will promptly examine the SPS projects supported by the DCs and the HA Panel, and approve the funding as soon as possible to enable prompt commencement of the related works for the earliest benefit of local residents.  In the unfortunate event that the funding requests for these projects are not approved by the FC, the relevant DCs will consider the way forward having regard to district circumstances.  We will, as always, complement and support the relevant work of the DCs as far as possible.

(3) Before the SPS projects are submitted to the LegCo for scrutiny, the respective DCs have completed the studies required according to the nature of the projects, including completing the technical feasibility study and detailed design on the works component, and obtained from the relevant government departments their endorsement on compliance of the work concerned with the established procedures.  For some projects, certain statutory procedures have also been completed in accordance with relevant legislation.

     Taking into account district circumstances, the DCs have adopted suitable channels to consult local residents and organisations and conducted open discussion before selecting their SPS projects.  During the subsequent project implementation, the DCs will continue to hold different forms of public engagement and publicity activities to collect the views of local communities and enhance residents' understanding of the projects.  Consultation channels include public consultation sessions, briefing sessions, focus groups, questionnaire surveys, DC Members' collection of views of residents in respective constituencies, as well as views collection and information dissemination through DC websites.

     As mentioned above, the DCs are responsible for monitoring the progress and assessing the effectiveness of the SPS projects.  We will do our best to support the DCs in their relevant work.

(4) Given the large number of government departments and public bodies, audit work has all along been carried out selectively.  In selecting subjects for conducting value for money audits, the Audit Commission takes into account a number of factors such as materiality, timeliness, amount of public money and risk involved, auditability, value added and whether the issues are systemic.  Public concern on the subjects is also one of the factors.  In accordance with established Government practice, before an audit report is tabled in the LegCo, the issues under investigation are strictly confidential and shall not be divulged.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:28


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