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Hong Kong urged to put quality above price

HONG KONG public works officials last month came under pressure to put greater emphasis on quality when awarding design and construction contracts.

The call is among 109 recommendations contained in a 206page report, Construct for Excellence, published by a government-appointed 16 member committee led by executive councillor Henry Tang and including Mott Connell managing director Robin Whalley.

The report is widely seen as Hong Kong's answer to the UK's Latham and Egan initiatives. The Tang group was created last April to review the construction industry following a raft of scandals involving corruption, shoddy piling and poor quality construction.

The nine-month study said the Works Bureau, which oversees the seven works departments including highways, drainage, architectural services and water supplies, should become more heavily involved with their running. This would end interdepartmental disputes and lead to better co-ordination.

The Tang group also recommended that a separate co-ordinating body, 'should be set up by the industry, for the industry to deliberate and generate consensus among its members on strategic issues''.

The report urges the government to review its current bid assessment criteria which focuses on lowest price when awarding design consultancies and construction contracts.

This follows widespread concern within government departments that quality had been sacrificed.

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