Financial Secretary Paul Chan has said that the government is “financially capable” of realising its mass land reclamation plan which may total more than HK$500 billion. But his budget speech on Wednesday did not include specific financial figures for studying the proposal.
Chan said that the government’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision was a “grand vision” encompassing plans for 1,700 hectares of land reclamation off Lantau Island, as well as the construction of strategic road and rail networks linking the coastal areas of Tuen Mun, northern Lantau and northern Hong Kong Island.
“The government will take forward the projects concerned in phases to open up more land for improving our living environment and quality as well as meeting the need for social development,” Chan said.
“The government is financially capable of realising the Lantau Tomorrow Vision. In formulating the implementation strategies, we will conduct a detailed financial analysis, taking into account factors like the government’s fiscal sustainability and affordability, and implement the projects in phases.”
Democrats and environmental activists, however, have accused the government of spending public funds on a “white elephant” project, when brownfield sites are available for development.
He said the government will begin studying the plan to construct artificial islands totalling 1,000-hectares near Kau Yi Chau, and related major transport networks as soon as possible.
The government will seek funding approval this year for the study of near-shore reclamation around Lung Kwu Tan, Sunny Bay and Siu Ho Wan. It will also conduct a planning study relating to the coastal areas of Tuen Mun for potential projects near Lung Kwu Tan and the River Trade Terminal.
In explaining his budget, Chan said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that the Development Bureau had issued relevant documents in relation to Lantau Tomorrow Vision, and will provide some figures on the financial situation.
He said some funds for engineering studies have already been reserved in the budget.
“As for the work after the studies, we will have a deeper discussion with society in accordance with the results of the studies and the financial estimations,” he said.