Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng said yesterday in the Legislative Assembly (AL) that public tenders for the architectural plans and construction of the new central library will respectively start in 2018 and 2019, predicting the construction will be completed in 2022.
Speaking on the sidelines of yesterday’s AL plenary session, the Secretary claimed that the some MOP900 million (US$112.5 million) construction budget estimated previously by the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) for the project was not “a precise number”.
He claimed a more precise estimation could only be made once public tenders start.
“We’re not building a luxury library… the budget is a prediction and the exact amount could end up being below or above MOP900 million,” said the Secretary.
The initial budget proposed by the IC last year was based on the average cost of large scale construction works in 2015 and an inflation rate of five per cent.
Not only a library
During the AL debate session on the location for the new library, several legislators opposed the location of the planned library, believing the proposal could increase traffic and costs since it involved an historical building.
It is planned that the new library will occupy the former headquarters of the Judiciary Police (PJ) and the Old Court Building on the Praia Grande on the Peninsula.
“The essential [consideration] is not only about the MOP900 million budget but the urban planning and traffic issues in the area that should be studied,” said legislator Ma Chi Seng.
Legislators suggested the development be relocated to Zone A of the new reclamation area, or to an area closer to the Macau Science Museum.
In his response, the Secretary said that the authorities would make sure that the Old Court Building be preserved for the project, in addition to introducing new functions for the library such as the storage of valuable historical documents.
“Macau has the largest collection of historical documents in Portuguese [outside of Portugal] – almost 260,000 books and documents are currently stored in industrial buildings and are in need of being preserved,” the Secretary said.