Hong Kong 2003
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Land, Public Works and Utilities
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Major studies have been undertaken with the aim of setting out a long-term strategy for land use and infrastructure development in Hong Kong as well as to enhance synergy with the Pearl River Delta. These initiatives will serve as a blueprint for building on the fine record of accomplishment in the extensive Public Works Programme. With an excellent track record of having constructed nine new towns that now house about 46 per cent of the population, the Government has plans to undertake new projects and to implement an urban renewal programme in older areas. Emphasis is placed on sustainable development, and people's well-being.

TO meet the needs of the community and sustain Hong Kong's position as a world city in Asia, the Government is committed to maintaining a robust investment in building new infrastructure and improving existing facilities. It will spend about $31 billion on capital works in 2003-04. In the next few years, it will maintain an average annual capital works expenditure of about $29 billion.

Government works projects are implemented by the Works Departments under the Public Works Programme. In 2001, the Government simplified the administrative procedures and as a result reduced the overall pre-construction period of a typical engineering project from six years to less than four years. The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau further re-engineered in 2003 the methodology for the planning and implementation of infrastructural projects to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the delivery of projects.

The Government commenced in 2003 the construction of a number of major projects which included the third phase of the Central Reclamation, the second stage of Penny's Bay reclamation, Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor, Deep Bay Link, the territory-wide rehabilitation of trunk watermains and the remaining works of the school improvement programme. In order to help boost the economy, the expenditure on minor works to improve various public facilities has also been increased in the past two years to alleviate the unemployment situation in the construction industry. The increased minor works have created over 6 000 additional new jobs for construction workers since October 2001.

With the concerted effort of all, the accident rate for public works contracts in 2003 continued on a downward trend to 19 accidents per thousand workers per year, representing a decrease of 24 per cent compared with 2002. With the success on site safety, the Government is taking steps to integrate health, safety and environmental protection into one portfolio to improve the overall performance of construction sites. The 'Pay for Safety and Environment Scheme' was introduced during the year to encourage contractors to improve site environmental performance in addition to health and safety. Additional measures were also introduced to enhance site cleanliness and hygiene, including the surroundings, to improve the site environment. Furthermore, regulatory action against contractors convicted of site safety offences was extended to cover environmental protection and mosquito breeding offences.

The Government and the Provisional Construction Industry Coordination Board achieved notable progress in implementing many of the recommendations made by the Construction Industry Review Committee. In order to strengthen communication with other stakeholders, the board has produced since April 2003 a quarterly leaflet outlining its major achievements and activities to complement information available at its website (http://www.pcicb.gov.hk).

Building upon the momentum generated by promulgation of the Guidelines on Subcontracting Practice, the board successfully launched in November the Primary Register, an initial phase of the voluntary subcontractor registration scheme. After securing a critical mass of registered subcontractors, this platform will evolve into a grading mechanism of individual capability and specialty.

Regarding employees' compensation insurance, the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers has revised its code of best practice to ensure proper coverage for all genuine employees working in construction sites, complemented by a set of guidelines formulated by the Labour Department to clarify the judicial criteria adopted in determining the requisite employment status. Furthermore, a premium rebate scheme has been rolled out as a driver of good safety performance based on prescribed indicators governing claims ratios, accident rates and outcome of audit inspections.

Based on a proposal submitted by the board, law drafting is in hand to introduce new legislation for establishment of the Construction Industry Council as an umbrella organisation to drive forward industry reform and promote self-regulation.

As part of the Government's comprehensive Slope Safety Strategy, a 10-year Landslip Preventive Measures (LPM) Programme, with a budget of about $9 billion, was launched in April 2000 to systematically upgrade substandard government slopes and carry out safety screening of private slopes. In addition, about $700 million will be spent in 2003-04 to maintain government slopes. For private slopes, a revised loan scheme on building safety improvement was set up in July 2001 to provide assistance to owners who need financial assistance to maintain their slopes. To further enhance visual harmony with the surroundings, landscaping will be included in upgraded or newly formed government slopes.

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