Joint-user Government Office Building in Area 67, Tseung Kwan O
Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed support for building TKO JUB to facilitate the release of the WCGOC site for commercial development. In view of increasing downturn risks in the Hong Kong economy and possible fiscal deficits in the coming years, Mr CHAN asked whether there was room to reduce the estimated project cost of $6,172.8 million, for instance by simplifying the design of TKO JUB. Moreover, in order to facilitate members in considering the project, he requested the Administration to provide detailed financial information on and related to the project, including (a) the financial information on the replacement building projects to reprovision the government offices currently accommodated in WCGOC, including the estimated revenues for the Government in developing the vacated site of WCGOC into convention and exhibition facilities, hotel facilities and Grade A office space, (b) the one-off removal costs for relocating offices of departments in WCGOC, leased private premises and other government-owned premises to TKO JUB, and (c) a comparison of the recurrent cost of accommodating the offices of departments in WCGOC, leased private premises and other government-owned premises with that of accommodating them in TKO JUB. He also sought details on the implementation timetable of TKO JUB.
Project Director 1, Architectural Services Department advised that the estimated construction cost of the project was not yet available as the returned tenders were still under assessment. He also advised that the unit construction cost in 2019 price level of TKO JUB was estimated to be in the range of $28,000 to $29,000 per m 2 , which was generally comparable to that of the recent project of Immigration Headquarters (“HQ”) in Area 67, Tseung Kwan O for reprovisioning the existing HQ accommodated in WCGOC. He remarked that the TKO JUB project would involve construction of a basement structure and the project site had a high underground water table that would incur complications to the construction works. On the implementation timetable of TKO JUB, USFST said that subject to FC’s funding approval, the Administration’s target was to commence the construction works in the third quarter of 2020 for completion in the first quarter of 2025.
As regards financial information relating to the TKO JUB project, USFST said that TKO JUB would release office spaces in the private sector and achieve an estimated annual saving in rental expenditure of up to about $45 million. Moreover, TKO JUB would facilitate the release of the WCGOC site for commercial development, thus enabling a better use of scarce land resources in central business districts. Government Property Administrator (“GPA”) added that there were nine replacement building projects under the WCGOC relocation exercise. The Administration had already sought funding approval for the construction of five replacement buildings, one of which, namely West Kowloon Government Offices, had been completed. The Administration was still working on the remaining four replacement building projects, and financial information of the entire WCGOC relocation exercise would be available at a later stage. Financial information of individual replacement building projects would be provided in the relevant funding proposals when they were submitted for consideration by PWSC and FC.
Mr CHAN Chun-ying sought details of the tenancy agreements including the expiry dates of the tenancies of the leased private premises of these departments.
USFST re-iterated that the Administration planned to submit the funding proposal to PWSC and FC within the current legislative session, with a view to commencing the construction works in the third quarter of 2020 for completion in the first quarter of 2025. He added that it was envisaged that the entire WCGOC relocation exercise would be completed by 2026. USFST and GPA further said that if there was delay in the TKO JUB project, the Government Property Agency would review the tenancies of the leased private premises of the five departments planned to be relocated to TKO JUB. Having regard to the then circumstances, the Administration might negotiate with the landlords in due course to renew the tenancies as appropriate so as to tie in with the targeted completion date of the project or identify new offices to accommodate these departments in the interim. Deputy Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury (Treasury)3 supplemented that to facilitate Members’ consideration of related government building projects, the Administration planned to bundle the funding proposal of TKO JUB with those of two other replacement building projects for accommodating, amongst others, the Water Supplies Department, Correctional Services Department and Drainage Services Department for submission to PWSC in March 2020.
Directorate staffing proposal of the Financial Services Branch of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau
Development of financial technology
Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed support for the staffing proposal as he noted that many duties taken up by the two posts were ongoing in nature. He enquired about the role of the two posts in promoting the development of Fintech in the banking and insurance sectors after the issuance of eight virtual bank licences and two virtual insurer authorizations in 2019 given that regulation of virtual banks and virtual insurers were under the purviews of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Insurance Authority respectively. He further enquired about the division of work between FSTB and the Innovation and Technology Bureau (“ITB”) in promoting the development of Fintech in Hong Kong.
DS(FS)3 responded that continuous high-level policy steering, particularly for regulatory coordination and market review, were necessary to bring about the full embracement of Fintech in the banking and insurance sectors. FSTB would continue to work closely with the two regulators to monitor market development, including the impact of issuing virtual bank and virtual insurer licences on the business and operation of traditional financial institutions, and consider whether and when new licences should be issued. As regards division of work, DS(FS)3 said that ITB was responsible for fostering the development of innovation and technology in various sectors as well as coordinating inter-bureau policy efforts in technology matters. In view of Hong Kong’s traditional strengths in financial services, FSTB would focus on devising and pushing forward initiatives to facilitate the development of Fintech with a view to establishing Hong Kong as a leading Fintech hub in Asia. She remarked that the Administration would update the Panel on the latest development of Fintech in Hong Kong in the second quarter of 2020.