The following is a letter from Transport Department defending the management and governance of the Smart Traffic Fund following our story on the Hong Kong Productivity Council awarding funds to its own projects.
I refer to the Transit Jam’s article “Questions raised over $1 billion Smart Traffic slush Fund as manager bankrolls its own projects” dated 6 April and wish to provide background information on the Smart Traffic Fund and put the record straight for the following issues for your readers.
The Smart Traffic Fund aims to provide funding support to local organisations or enterprises for conducting research and application of innovation and technology with the objectives of enhancing commuting convenience, enhancing efficiency of the road network or road space, and improving driving safety. The Transport Department (TD) engaged the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) as a partner to implement the Fund and to serve as the Secretariat given the HKPC’s expertise and experience in administering various government funds. All applications are assessed and vetted by the Management Committee, which is chaired by the Deputy Commissioner for Transport (Planning and Technical Services) and comprises representatives from the Government, experts in the industry and relevant stakeholders.
The Management Committee adopts a two-tier declaration system, in which members are required to register their interests annually and to declare any interests associated with each application before or at the meeting. If a member has a direct conflict of interest in an application to be discussed in a meeting, he/she will not be involved in vetting the application and will be required to withdraw from the discussion of the application in the meeting. The Automotive Platforms and Application Systems (APAS) R&D Centre is a research institute in automobile technologies hosted by HKPC. To avoid conflict of interest, HKPC will engage experts in relevant fields who are independent of APAS and HKPC to assist the Management Committee in vetting the applications. The approved funding amount granted for APAS’ projects is the maximum funding support to be provided by the Fund. Actual funding to be disbursed will be subject to actual project expenditure according to the terms of the funding agreement and submission of audited account(s) by the applicant.
Regarding the application submitted by APAS titled “Pilot Project of 5G- enabled Autonomous People Mover Service in a Residential Park”, the Fund will support its development and trial of a 5G-enabled autonomous people mover service in a Hong Kong low-density residential complex. From what we learnt from APAS, the part in the article mentioning that “the autonomous vehicle wouldn’t be trialed outside HKPC’s own Kowloon Tong grounds” is about another project which is not related to the Smart Traffic Fund. APAS would clarify with you and provide further details.
Wong Kwong Mo
Senior Engineer Transport Department
Categories: Letters to the Editor