Hong Kong needs new land for more homes: CE

Le­ung dis­misses op­po­si­tion law­maker’s claim there were plenty of va­cant flats across the city

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By KAHON CHAN in Hong Kong kahon@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

" The sup­ply ob­vi­ously can­not ful­fill the needs of the peo­ple and thus there is a press­ing need for the govern­ment to ex­ploit land for de­vel­op­ments as soon as pos­si­ble.”


Statis­tics clearly prove the press­ing need to turn vil­lages into towns to meet the city’s high de­mand for new homes, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun- ying wrote on his offi cial blog, as he dis­missed claims that there are plenty of va­cant apart­ments in town.

The ar­ti­cle, ti­tled “let the num­bers tell the truth”, was pub­lished on Le­ung’s of­fi­cial blog on Fri­day.

Op­po­nents of the North East New Ter­ri­to­ries ( NENT) de­vel­op­ment plan have long ar­gued that there are still a large num­ber of va­cant apart­ments or plots in the city to meet home buy­ers’ de­mand.

Leg­is­la­tor Gary Fan Kwok- wai, for in­stance, said there were 150,000 va­cant flats across the city last month. He and oth­ers in the op­po­si­tion camp have ad­vo­cated bull­doz­ing a golf course to build homes in­stead.

Le­ung, cit­ing a let­ter pro­vided by Fan last month, re­vealed the law­maker’s source was Next Mag­a­zine, which counted homes for the el­derly, hos­pi­tal beds, board­ing school and even pris­ons as “va­cant homes”.

“Ob­vi­ously this data should not be used to as­sess va­cancy of res­i­den­tial units,” Le­ung wrote.

Rat­ing and Val­u­a­tion Depart­ment re­ports, Le­ung pointed out, showed there were only 48,000 va­cant pri­vate res­i­den­tial flats at the end of last year, the low­est num­ber in a decade. Th ere were also only 3,689 pub­lic rental flats avail­able to let.

“The sup­ply ob­vi­ously can­not ful­fill the needs of the peo­ple and thus there is a press­ing need for the govern­ment to ex­ploit land for de­vel­op­ments as soon as pos­si­ble,” Le­ung wrote, urg­ing Fan to sup­port pro­pos­als to boost land sup­ply.

Apart from the NENT plan, which will see its first apart­ment com­pleted in 2022, the govern­ment also ad­vanced pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion for a planned new town at Hung Shui Kiu last month. An in­ter­nal study is cur­rently iden­ti­fy­ing po­ten­tial sites for more new towns in the North­ern New Ter­ri­to­ries.

Sev­eral de­mand sup­press­ing mea­sures are also in place to sta­bi­lize home prices. A Hong Kong Mone­tary Au­thor­ity ( HKMA) spokesper­son said there was a plan to end the stricter mort­gage tests as the mar­ket has shown no sign of de­cline, de­spite slug­gish trad­ing in the real es­tate mar­ket.

Th e reg­u­la­tor’s as­sur­ance echoed pledges made ear­lier by the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive. Le­ung said on Mon­day that while a boost in sup­ply is the fun­da­men­tal cure of the de­mand short­fall, the mea­sures are an ef­fec­tive con­trol of risk if the bub­ble bursts.

The se­ries of in­flated stamp du­ties were gazetted in a “neg­a­tive vet­ting pro­ce­dure” to al­low the new tax regime to come into force be­fore the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil reads them in Oc­to­ber. Real es­tate agents have re­cently staged cam­paigns to scrap the mea­sures.

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