A leading electric vehicle (EV) specialist has hit out against the government’s “Green Employment Scheme” which will see a team of 30 hired to push a new HK$2 billion EV subsidy to property owners and help developers with the application process.
Paul Bromley, who led the movement to bring the first hybrid buses to Hong Kong in 2007, says the employment scheme is an unfair handout to the property sector.
“This is a further subsidy to the property developers, with the government employing staff to do their work. The incentive should be on the property owners to make the applications,” he says.
Under the Green Employment Scheme mandate, the new 30-strong EV team will “strengthen manpower in contacting and assisting property management companies, owners’ corporations and owners’ committees to participate in this pilot subsidy scheme,” says the Environment Bureau (ENB).
But Bromley says no such team exists for other EV subsidies, including the Pilot Green Transport Fund (PGTF). “Under PGTF, recipients have to do the work themselves,” he says. “Nobody is appointed to fill in their forms.”
“It’s the thin end of the wedge,” says Bromley, “and could act as a perpetual handout to property developers, as well as increasing the public tax burden with additional staff.”
Bromley says the underlying parking subsidy scheme is a misuse of public money, offering building owners around HK$33,000 each for 60,000 parking chargers which, he says, cost less than HK$10,000 on the market. “It’s an obvious waste of money,” he says. “And would the money not be better spent encouraging recharging infrastructure for public transport, which, by the government’s own admission, is over half of roadside emissions?”
Encouraging personal transport for the minority of Hong Kongers who can afford private cars aggravates traffic congestion, Bromley says, which generates greater emissions from idling engines. “One only has to look at the Central harbour tunnel queues to see the problem.”
The number of private cars in Hong Kong has risen around 4% every year for the last decade.
ENB said it could not comment until the new jobs were officially advertised. The new employees will start work between July and September, with jobs likely advertised this week, according to a source.