Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

uncertainties and hurdles along the road to long-anticipated legislative reform. However, I strongly believe the issues and challenges are not insurmountable and, provided the regime is operated as it is intended at every level, the Hong Kong construction industry is already a step closer to its eventual transition to a legislative regime. What are the trends in Hong Kong construction, and what does the new public budget portend for public construction investment in the city? With many parts of the world now far along the path towards endemic COVID-19, Hong Kong remains one of the very few places with the toughest pandemic restrictions in the world since early February 2020. Such restrictions have unavoidably caused substantial impact with operation disruptions in the construction sector. To give a summary, safety and health measure were tightened, infected workers and close contacts were subjected to mandatory quarantine, construction activities were halted, material supplies were suspended and statutory approvals were delayed. Most recently, the government responded to these hindrances by granting extension of time, for up to a maximum period of six months, to all public work contracts that were impacted by the latest (fifth) wave of the COVID-19 epidemic. Other measures were enacted to provide upfront certainty to contractors in shielding themselves from potential liquidated damages, so as to minimise unease and avoid disputes that may be generated by failing to meet the existing contractual deadlines. The government also pledged to meet a keen demand by the community for infrastructure, as well as land and housing, as soon as the epidemic stabilises. In the recent 2022-23 Budget, the government, notably, has earmarked HKD100 billion for the implementation EXPERT INSIGHT 67

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