Sunday, 28 November 2010

Moving for Money

I was surprised to read in the newspaper the other day that the
government buildings in Wan Chai -- Immigration Tower, Revenue Tower
and Wan Chai Tower -- will be vacated to make way for more premium
office space.

The 26 government agencies housed in these buildings will have to move
out to other areas like Chai Wan and North Point. There was no time
frame mentioned in the story of when they would vacate the area.

Two years ago Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah cited a 2003
study in his budget speech.

"This will free some land in the central business district for
developing Grade A offices and give fresh impetus to the new
districts, increasing employment opportunities there," he said at the
time.

He added it was not necessary for all government office buildings to
be in core business areas.

The 2003 study claimed 28 million square feet extra of Grade A office
building space would be needed by 2030. And the three government
offices now would be a drop in the bucket at 1.8 million square feet.

Surveyor Pang Shiu-kee said premium office space is at about HK$12,000
($1,545) per square foot, and so land of about 2 million square feet
would be worth HK$21.6 billion.

Immigration Tower and Revenue Tower have always been in Wan Chai and
convenient for most people because of their location. To move them
would just makes things all the more difficult for everyone.

While it's understandable these government offices are sitting on
prime real estate, surely they should also be thinking of how they are
serving their taxpayers if the buildings are moved elsewhere less
convenient.

It's also another argument proving that the government will bend over
backwards for business interests, instead of its citizens.

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