Priscilla Lau on the economics and financing of the bridge
Detailed feasibility study and good coordination among authorities will be required.
Priscilla Lau would like to see a detailed feasibility study of Gordon Wu's bridge project to verify that the benefits justify the HKD $15 billion cost.
Ms. Lau is Associate Professor and Associate Head of the Department of Business Studies at the Polytechnic University. She is also Hong Kong’s representative to the National People’s Congress.
The western part of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) currently only accounts for about 20% of the freight in the area, she says, while the east accounts for 80%. Many of the factories in the west are oriented towards the domestic market and generate little freight traffic heading for Hong Kong.
Production costs in the west are cheaper and more export processing industries may move there if the bridge were built, according to Ms. Lau. But she does not expect the growth in exports to repeat that of the east in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, she believes that other businesses such as tourism will develop once the western part of the PRD is linked up with Hong Kong,
Ms. Lau says that raising HK$15 billion should not present a problem. However, she would like to verify whether the figure already takes into account all other costs on top of construction expenses.
The need to involve different parties across the border will raise the overall cost of building the bridge, she says. A successful plan will need to take the rights and benefits of the various parties into consideration. The key government players will be Guangdong province, Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai, as well as the Central Government. All these parties will need to agree and approve the plan.
She believes that the coordination required for this project will be even more complicated than that for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Expressway which Mr. Wu built in the 1990s. Once approved by the Central Government, the expressway needed only the approval and participation of one major authority: the Guangdong provincial government. Even then, many problems arose at the county and city levels along the route of the expressway, she says.
For the bridge to be successful, Ms. Lau believes that an unprecedented level of agreement and coordination among the various government authorities will be essential.