Legislators are set to approve Hong Kong Disneyland's expansion plan by a comfortable margin today, despite reservations among pan-democrats.
The Democrats, who had earlier been expected to support the deal, decided yesterday to abstain from the vote because of what they said was a lack of transparency surrounding the theme park's performance in the past two years.
The Civic Party had not decided how it would vote.
The plan, including the government's application to increase its investment in the theme park, has won the backing of administration-friendly parties, including the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Liberal Party.
The government and The Walt Disney Company - the theme park's two shareholders - have agreed to invest about HK$3.63 billion to expand Hong Kong Disneyland by adding more than 30 new rides by 2014.
Under the expansion plan revealed by the government last Tuesday, Disney would contribute HK$3.5 billion to build three new themed areas - Grizzly Trail, Mystic Point and Toy Story.
To maintain its majority shareholding, the government will convert some HK$5.9 billion of existing debt to equity. The government's share will drop from 57 per cent to about 52 per cent, while Disney's stake will rise to about 48 per cent.
Work could start late this year if the legislature's Finance Committee approves the plan.
Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said he was inclined to support the application, though his party had not yet decided its position.
"My personal opinion is we have no genuine choice. Several thousand Disney staffers could lose their jobs" if the park is not expanded to make it more attractive to tourists, he said. "The government's investment in the joint venture would be at risk if Legco does not approve the deal."
Mr Tong said there were "strong views" in his party that its lawmakers should not back the expansion as the original agreement reached between the government and Disney in 1999 was not good. Taxpayers paid billions for a 57 per cent equity stake and billions more for the land to be reclaimed and made ready for the theme park, while Disney invested just HK$2.45 billion.
Meanwhile, RTHK reported that Disney planned to expand the existing two hotels in Hong Kong Disneyland or build a new hotel.
The move would provide an extra 1,000 hotel rooms.
A Disney spokesman said it had no plans to build a new hotel.