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Hong Kong seeks £8.6bn project funding

FUNDING FOR around 120 construction and civil engineering projects worth nearly HK$98bn (£8.6bn) will be sought by government officials in Hong Kong in the next financial year starting next month.

Details of schemes were published by the Hong Kong Highways Department in its latest budget submission. The total value of the projects is slightly higher than recent years. Last year, the budget proposal topped £8bn and £7.5bn in 1999.

Funds are sought for big ticket schemes including the £1.75bn Route 9 highway from Tsing Yi to Sha Tin, the £0.95bn Deep Bay road link and more than £0.8bn to kick off redevelopment of the former Kai Tak airport.

The work at Kai Tak has been split into two packages. The first, costing £0.46bn, involves the reclamation of the Kai Tak drainage channel which separates the runway from the land and the infilling of the Kwun Tong typhoon shelter. The second calls for initial development works worth £0.35bn on the former aircraft apron.

Sources from Hong Kong's construction industry - suffering its lowest output levels for four years - caution that the schemes have still to receive funding approval from local law makers that could delay or reject the projects. Land acquisition and programming delays mean the planned start could also slip.

Comparison with previous budget estimates show that in the 1998/99 financial year, 39 of 113 schemes were delayed to the 1999/2000 financial year or later.

Another six projects were scrapped. The government brought forward 29 schemes, although this was not enough to make up for the overall shortfall.

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