AL urges amending infrastructure law to extend public finance supervision

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Legislators on the follow-up committee for public finance perceive that the government should also amend the current law on infrastructure contracts and public procurement, so that they can be in line with the proposed changes to the current budget framework law and extend the public supervision on government expenditure.
The sub-committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) met with Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac (pictured) on the amendments to the current budget framework law last Friday morning. The president of the committee, Mak Soi Kun, told reporters after the closed-door meeting that the legislators reckon there may be a loophole in supervising public expenditure if the government does not also amend the city’s infrastructure contract law and procurement law.
Last Monday, the government released the drafted amendments to the budget law for public consultation. The proposed bill suggests mandating government departments list all their budgeted expenditure on major investment plans, especially infrastructure projects involving multiple years of investment.
In addition, the amendments propose that official departments will need to estimate total expenditure, and the yearly budget for these multiple-year projects, as well as submitting an execution report regarding the investment plans to the AL within 30 days of each quarter ending.
The Secretary told reporters after the meeting that he believes the suggested amendments to the budget framework law will effectively extend public supervision of government expenditure, which will thus respond to the demands of society. However, he noted that the government will listen to more opinions on the proposal as it is still in the consultation stage.
The government expected last week that the amendments to the budget framework law could be applied to the production of the budget plan for the 2017 fiscal year, if the bill could be submitted for legislation to the AL this year.
K.L.