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Transcript of remarks by STH after the breakaway sessions of Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee

     Following is a transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, at a media session after the breakaway session of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee this afternoon (January 10):

Secretary for Transport and Housing: The Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee has held breakaway sessions this afternoon. Basically, our members were divided into two groups to explore issues relating to current public rental housing policy. Policies including the operation of the QPS (Quota and Points System) for the non-elderly singletons, what we called "well-off tenants" policy, overcrowding policy, under-occupation policy, redevelopment of aged public housing estates and also means to target or combat the abuse of public housing resources. The other group has also looked at the needs of some specific groups in the community, namely the elderly, those single persons of different age bracket, those families, people living in poor accommodation or what we can describe as substandard accommodation including so called subdivided units in Hong Kong, and also young people. We have gone through a range of issues, some observations were made. But of course, it is not for me today to summarise the conclusions of the members because we have not reached any specific conclusions. We are going to bring today's observations and suggestions to the coming full meeting of the Steering Committee on February 2. Of course, we are concerned about the situation relating to subdivided units. And the Steering Committee is liaising with a research organisation to conduct an assessment and projection of people who are living in these so called subdivided units in Hong Kong. We are not pretending that this is an easy task because how do you define subdivided units, how do you get access to these accommodations. That is a very challenging task. But in any case we feel that it is still important that we conduct a reliable assessment of the situation to assist us in formulating suitable response to their needs.

Reporter: In terms of policies for age over 35 singletons, young married couples and young people whose income exceed that of public rental housing, the discussion you mean today, did they talk about the possibility to reintroduce the home starter loans?

Secretary for Transport and Housing: That was one suggestion indeed made in the discussion. But I noticed that the majority of our members came to the view that given the current very tight supply situation in private housing, it would not be advisable for the government to reintroduce the home loans scheme because to do that may push up housing prices. So there was a lot of caution indicated by members about this topic. We are not making any decision today on any topic. So any ideas suggested in this afternoon's discussion, we will take those views further and of course, at the end of the day, by the middle of this year, when the Steering Committee comes up with the consultation document, we will put forward the Committee's main ideas for public consultation.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, January 10, 2013
Issued at HKT 21:45


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