Construction of the long-awaited Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will begin no later than 2010, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said yesterday.
"The governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have made a breakthrough in the financing of the bridge. We think the new financial scheme we have laid out will greatly help accelerate its construction," he said.
He was attending the 11th Guangdong-Hong Kong Joint Cooperation Conference in Guangzhou yesterday.
Official from the two sides signed 11 agreements relating to the service sector, tourism, science and technology, and large cross-border infrastructure projects.
Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have agreed to invest in the bridge and the central government has approved in principle the project, Tsang said.
"The central government will also invest, and construction of the bridge will begin once it approves the final feasibility report," he said.
The central government and the Guangdong provincial government will have a combined investment of 7 billion yuan ($1 billion), he said.
The government of Hong Kong will invest 6.75 billion yuan, and Macao will spend 1.98 billion yuan, he said.
The investments will make up about 42 percent of the total cost, Tsang said.
"The rest will come from bank loans. The financial agreement will push up the bridge's final feasibility report," he said.
A BOT (build-operate-transfer) financing plan was drawn up early this year. Work on it began in 2002.
Under the BOT scheme, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will be responsible only for the construction of ports and connective parts of the bridge within their territories.
The main link to the three will be constructed through public financing.
Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua said the bridge is an important structure in developing economic and social ties between Guangdong and Hong Kong.
The two sides will also promote the construction of larger cross-border infrastructure projects, he said.
For example, construction of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Railway is expected to begin next year, and a feasibility report of a railway connecting Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports will be completed at the end of this year, the governor said.