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.