Hong Kong, already the world's least affordable urban centre to live and work in, is also the costliest Asian city to get anything built, due to its severe shortage of construction labour, according to a survey by global design and architecture consultancy Arcadis.
Hong Kong's registered construction workers numbered 427,609 as of January, according to the city's Construction Industry Council website. Their productivity and number of working days are declining, as 40 per cent of registered workers are older than 50 years, according to data by Hong Kong's Construction Industry Alliance.
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"The major reason is shortage of labour in Hong Kong," a persistent problem with no apparent and immediate solutions, said Francis Au, Arcadis' country head for Hong Kong and Macau, in releasing the International Construction Costs Index. "Solutions based on migrant labour aren't acceptable to the local population at this stage. To stabilise the rising building costs, the government and the construction industry will have to look into investing in initiatives and solutions that can increase industrial productivity."
"We used to call those casinos money-printing machines,'" Au said. Unlike Hong Kong, Macau can import construction workers from mainland China and Hong Kong, which goes some way to alleviating the labour shortage and cap the costs.