EPD issues tender documents for controversial incinerator

After months of delays, the Environmental Protection Department has finally issued tender documents for the controversial Shek Kwu Chau incinerator. This means that the tender is likely to be awarded in about a year’s time and work on the site will start around the second quarter of 2018.

The EPD told HowardWinnReports earlier this year there has been no delay but the tentative timetable in the prequalification documents says that invitations to tender for the Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF), as the government likes to call the incinerator, would be sent out in December 2015. However, these documents were only issued two weeks ago so the IWMF project is running a year late. Continue reading

Bid-rigging in Hong Kong is due to weak laws and feeble government

The recent jailing of a subcontractor for his part in a HK$260 million bid-rigging scandal at a Shatin housing estate has again highlighted a problem that is rampant in Hong Kong. Although bid-rigging attracts attention due to the large sums of money involved it is only a part of a more complex problem.

The real problem which encourages bid-rigging is the rampant illegality which pervade Owners Committees (OC) and the feebleness of the government’s Home Affairs Department(HAD) in administering the Building Management Ordinance. OCs are formed from owners on the estate who together with the property management company it appoints, are supposed to manage the estate for the benefit of the owners. The activities of the OC and management company are supposed to be regulated by the Building Management Ordinance (BMO) which is administered by the HAD. Continue reading

Deborah Annells saga reveals regulatory incompetence

The Deborah Annells saga ended last week when she was sentenced to nine years jail for theft and fraud. But her case reveals shocking incompetence on the part of the government and institutional bodies that were charged with overseeing the trust industry and the conduct of professionals.

Both the Financial Secretary and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) were presented with compelling evidence of fraud and breach of trust soon after Annells’ crimes became apparent. But both bodies declined to act and failed to protect the public and allowed her to continue stealing money from her client’s trusts.  Continue reading

Annells convicted of HK$30 million theft and fraud

British tax consultant Deborah Annells was today convicted of 47 charges of theft, fraud, and possession of a false instrument, in the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Zervos. Annells sat somberly in court as the charges were read to her over a period of 50 minutes. Her conviction involved theft from four of her clients totalling more than HK$30 million. Continue reading

Sludge facility contractor claims HK$2 billion from HK Gov

Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing, spoke with pride at the official opening of the HK$5.5 billion state of the art Sludge Treatment Facilities (STF) last week. The facilities are to be renamed in less malodorous terms as the T Park with the T standing for transformation.  “It signifies Hong Kong’s dedication to ‘transforming’ waste into energy, which is a key part in the waste management strategy for Hong Kong,” Wong said at the opening ceremony at which Chief Executive CY Leung officiated.

But one aspect of this world class project Wong did not elaborate on is that Veolia, the main contractor, that built the STF, has started legal proceedings against the Hong Kong government to recover HK$2 billion in cost overruns associated with the project. Mediation proceedings are expected to start soon. Continue reading

Zhang Dejiang and the politics of illegal car parking

The photograph below shows a senior Hong Kong government official’s car parked illegally outside the Hong Kong Club at lunchtime. It was sent by a reader who photographed it on May 3, and accompanied the photograph with the observation, “How nice to see AM 9 illegally parked on a double yellow line all because it’s arrogant driver was attending a private lunch at Hong Kong Club. “There was a time when ministers or LegCo members set an example for the rest of society to follow.  Now they are self-important jokes who see themselves above the law.” Continue reading

Engineers say design flaws delay Shek Kwu Chau incinerator tenders

Despite the apparent urgency to start work on the HK$19.2 billion incinerator project at Shek Kwu Chau, contractors are wondering why it is taking so long for the Environmental Protection Department (EDP) to release the tender documents. In an announcement on December 20 last year, four companies were prequalified to bid for the Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) but four months later they are still waiting to see the tender documents. One consultant familiar with the project said, “The tender documents should have been ready by now particularly as the project has been held up by judicial challenges for two and a half years.” HowardWinnReports understands that one possible reason why the tender documents have not been sent out is the emergence of a problem with the proposed construction method for the artificial island which is to house the iWMF. Continue reading

Companies Registry should drop its pay wall

The Companies Registry has become a nice little earner for the government with last year’s net profit totaling HK$221.4 million. This went to the government as a dividend along with the HK$42 million the Registry paid in profits tax.

The number of companies on the Hong Kong register has grown sharply in recent years. In the year 2000 there were about 500,000. By the end of March 2015 this figure had grown to 1,298695, of which 10,029 were non-Hong Kong registered companies.

The Companies Registry Trading Fund (CRTF) has provided the government with HK$2.2 billion since the year ending March 31, 1999 with most of this from the fees it extracts for the annual registration of companies, the incorporation of companies, and the cost of searching CRTF data for information on companies.

Indeed, some say it is making obscene profits from the business. Continue reading

Contractors say HZM bridge 2017 deadline is unconvincing

The government’s target for completing the Hong Kong portion of the Hong Kong–Zuhai-Macau bridge by December 2017 is looking increasingly unconvincing. The project which includes an artificial island to house the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) has been fraught with delays. But there are now fresh doubts over the Dec 2017 target following the recent application by the Highways Department for an extension of the use of the land which accommodates the HKBCF site office, for another four and half years.  Continue reading

Swire in discussions over new site for Grappa’s

The Grappa’s/ Swire saga continues to attract attention online and newspaper letters columns. Swire as the landlord Pacific Place of course has every right not to renew Grappa’s lease in Pacific Place. However, the decision has baffled many of its clientele since it does good business and is a popular concept judging from the outcry that greeted the news of its impending closure. Indeed, it does considerably better than some of the newer f&b outlets introduced to ‘freshen’ up the look and feel of the mall.

We understand that relations between Swire and El Grande Concepts, the owners of Grappa’s, became somewhat strained in the latter stages of discussions over the restaurant’s future. Continue reading