Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has blamed the filibuster at the Legislative Council for blocking funding for infrastructure projects and thus affecting jobs for fresh graduates.
Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, he said the government had submitted 72 applications costing a total of HK$67.5 billion to the Legislative Council’s public works subcommittee, but only five funding applications were discussed and only one of them, costing HK$100 million, was approved as of January 21.
“We have conducted the feasibility studies, we are ready [to roll out the projects],” Leung said, adding that the projects included the expansion of Kwai Chung and Tuen Mun hospitals and a cultural centre in the Yau Tsim Mong District.
“At a time of slowdown in the economy, we need these projects,” Leung argued. “They can ensure employment in many industries.”
Leung said that the job hunting plans of many architecture, design and engineering graduates may be affected if the projects were not agreed.
He also said that he did not have high hopes of these projects being passed before the delivery of the annual budget at the end of February.
“If they can be passed before the current of term of LegCo ends, the government would be very grateful.”
He added that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor would meet with LegCo President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing to discuss the issues.
Opposing white elephants
Albert Chan Wai-yip, one of filibuster participants, told RTHK that the government had made “white elephant projects” such as the high speed rail link a higher priority, by withdrawing projects such as the hospital expansions.
Chan criticised that government for ignoring the livelihood issues, saying that it should put less controversial projects higher up the agenda.
He also questioned if Leung’s comments were intended to pressure the chairpersons of committees and the pro-Beijing camp.
He added that lawmakers have been waging filibusters for four years, so the government should know how to deal with the issues and not simply complain.