Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ1: The Government's new housing policy

     Following is a question by the Hon Miriam Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (July 11):


     The Chief Executive (CE) mentioned time and again before his assumption of office that the prime task after his assumption of office would be to take forward a new housing policy, whilst his governing team also advocates that the new Government should promote a "supply-led" strategy and increase the supply of public rental housing flats and Home Ownership Scheme flats, so as to cope with the shortfall of supply in private housing flats.  The former Secretary for Transport and Housing also advised the new Government before her departure from office that it might be very risky for the new Government to enhance its intervention in property prices, and it should do so according to its ability.  Regarding how a balance can be struck between providing members of the public opportunities of home ownership and avoiding drastic fluctuations in property prices, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the annual housing construction target of the new Government during its term of administration in the next five years; whether it has any concrete construction programme; of the ratio between public and private housing flats; whether public housing flats will be put on sale on the market; if so, of the details and the quantity of such flats; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether the new Government will change the plan of selling sites with restrictions on flat number and flat size which has already been implemented by the Government of the last term; if so, of the details; and

(c) regarding the introduction of a "Hong Kong property for Hong Kong residents" policy put forward by CE in his election platform, of the circumstances based on which the Government decides when such policy should be introduced, and of the types of housing to which such policy will apply?



     Members of the community wish to have a happy home and housing currently tops the list of livelihood issues of public concern.  The present Administration has listed housing as one of its key tasks.  We are aware that there are a number of housing issues of general concern to the public which require careful and pragmatic handling.  These include the housing needs of the grass roots and non-elderly singletons; and the difficulty faced by the lower- and middle-income families in home purchase.

     Housing is not simply meeting the basic needs of the public.  It also affects the economy.  Hence the Government will adopt a balanced approach to increase the supply of public housing on the one hand, and maintain the stability of the private market on the other.  The key rests with increasing land supply for public and private housing as appropriate to provide sufficient flats to meet the public demand for housing.

     I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that we will handle the issue of housing which is of wide public concern in a prudent manner. We will strive to increase the overall supply of housing and facilitate the stable and healthy development of the property market through increasing land supply so as to avoid high volatility in the market.  Only when people are living in contentment will the society be stable and harmonious.  We will adopt a realistic and pragmatic approach in handling housing matters and will reach out to the districts to listen broadly to the views of the public in a humble manner.

     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Miriam Lau in three-part is as follows:

(a) We consider that the provision of public and private residential flats should dovetail with the prevailing trend of housing demand.  Hence we will reactivate the long-term study on housing and, based on our past experience, formulate a long-term housing strategy.  We will conduct a comprehensive assessment of housing demand so as to gain a better understanding of the public's demand for different types of housing.

     On the public rental housing (PRH) side, we will start with improving the land planning process and increasing PRH supply to meet the growing demand.  The current annual average PRH production of 15 000 units is not a fixed target, and we will increase the supply having regard to the circumstances and subject to the land situation.

     On the New Home Ownership Scheme (New HOS), our current plan is to provide some 17 000 flats over the four years from 2016/17 onwards.  When more sites are identified in future, our target is to provide some 5 000 flats on average per year.

     On the private housing side, making land available for an annual production of 20 000 flats on average over the next few years is not a fixed target.  Our aim is to allow the Government to build up land reserve in a certain period of time so as to ensure steady land supply for the property market.

     There is no fixed ratio between the supply of public and private flats as mentioned above.  The housing supply of these flats can be adjusted according to the supply and demand conditions under the prevailing circumstances.

     We will continue to increase land supply by adopting a multi-pronged approach, including releasing industrial land, exploring the options of reclamation on an appropriate scale outside the Victoria Harbour and development of caverns; looking into the use of green belt areas that are devegetated, deserted or formed; examining the uses of "Government, Institution or Community" sites; and exploring the possibility of converting into housing land those sites in the North District and Yuen Long currently used mainly for industrial purposes or temporary storage, or which is deserted, so as to open up land resources and actively build up land reserve.  This will help enable the Government to meet the demand for housing during different times and to resolve the problem at source.

(b) The Government announced for the first time in 2010 that it would specify in the land sale conditions the minimum number of residential flats to be built and restrictions on the flat size.  This measure aimed to increase the supply of small and medium-sized flats in the market.  In addition, the Government introduced a measure in 2011/12 to impose restrictions on certain residential sites requiring developers concerned to provide no less than a certain number of flats on the sites in order to ensure the supply of residential flats.

     Owing to the resumption of the HOS and the launch of the West Rail property development projects, which include the successfully tendered Nam Cheong Station project and Tsuen Wan West Station TW5 (Cityside) project, the Tsuen Wan West Station TW5 (Bayside) project which just started to invite tender yesterday, as well as the proposed development at  Long Ping Station (North) which is scheduled for tender in the second quarter of 2012/13, the supply of small and medium-sized flats in the market will increase notably in the coming years.

     President, land is a precious resource in Hong Kong and the development of land requires much effort in planning and the support of infrastructure.  We have to ensure that the land so developed could supply a good number of flats.  We will continue to monitor closely the development of the property market and, may consider specifying in the land sale conditions such requirements as the number of flats to be built having regard to the prevailing circumstances to meet market needs.

(c) The rationale of the policy of "Hong Kong property for Hong Kong residents" put forward by the Chief Executive is to accord priority to cater for the housing needs of local residents.

     Local public housing providers including the Housing Authority (HA) and the Housing Society (HS) have been catering for the needs of Hong Kong residents on home ownership at different times from various angles and levels.  The Home Ownership Scheme launched by the HA in the 1970s last century; the Flat-For-Sale Scheme and the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme launched by the HS in the 1980s and 1990s, and the newly introduced My Home Purchase Plan undertaken by the HS are all mainly targeted at Hong Kong residents.

     We will ascertain the public policy objectives of the relevant public housing providers, and will explore with them on ways to better meet the home ownership needs of Hong Kong residents with different affordability through their subsidised housing projects.  We will also continue to closely monitor the development of the property market.  If necessary, we will take appropriate measures to ensure a stable and healthy development of the property market and to strive to safeguard the opportunity for Hong Kong residents to purchase their own homes.

Ends/Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:46


Print this page