Hong Kong's financial secretary John Tsang said Wednesday in his annual budget speech that the estimated capital works expenditure for the fiscal year 2013-14 could exceed 70 billion HK dollars (9 billion U.S. dollars).
Tsang told lawmakers at the city's Legislative Council that the city was likely to maintain similar scale of investment in capital works for each of the next few years as Hong Kong's major infrastructure projects entered their construction peaks, far exceeding the average annual expenditure of about 40 billion HK dollars in the past five years.
By late March 2013, Hong Kong's total commitments for capital projects are expected to be over 310 billion HK dollar, he said.
In the fiscal year 2013-14, which starts on April 1 of 2013, major infrastructure projects dealt with traffic infrastructure, hospitals, sports facilities, environmental infrastructure and velodrome.
Five new railway lines are now under construction in Hong Kong, including the Shatin to Central Link, a railway that traverses the territory and will be put into operation in 2020. Upon completion of the five rail lines, Hong Kong's railway network will cover an area within which over 70 percent of Hong Kong's population lives, Tsang said.
As for hospitals, he said Hong Kong is preparing for the redevelopment of Queen Mary Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital and United Christian Hospital. The estimated costs will be as high as 25 billion HK dollars. In addition, the city plans to use 20 billion HK dollars for the construction and refurbishment of several public hospitals and clinics.
The official said these large infrastructure projects would create a large number of jobs which are particularly crucial in times of uncertain economic outlook. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.76 HK dollars)