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Transcript of remarks by STH before Legislative Council meeting

     Following is a transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, at a media session before the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting today (February 12):

Reporter: What is the latest development on the amendment for the stamp duty? What is the focus for the Government right now?

Secretary for Transport and Housing: Very briefly, we now know that there are 10 members' committee stage amendments, and then there are four main committee stage amendments from the Government, as well as a number of technical amendments, so we expect next week's debate to be a rather prolonged one. At this point, our position regarding some controversial issues remains the same. As regards whether companies formed by Hong Kong permanent residents should be exempted from BSD (Buyer's Stamp Duty), as regards whether charitable organisations should be exempted, our position is that should we grant exemption, that would open a loophole. That would dilute the impact of the Bill itself, which is to contain demand for the sake of market stability.

     Now for those ideas that we feel are reasonable and workable, we have already taken follow-up response. For example, we have shortened the period for reimbursement of BSD as regards redevelopment projects. We have also taken over Ms Regina Ip's amendment on withdrawing the BSD exemption from HKPR (Hong Kong permanent resident) minors.

     Regarding Mr James To's amendment to have positive vetting of whatever future adjustments coming from Government, the Government feels that it would be much better to stick to our existing proposal for negative vetting because negative vetting can ensure the immediate gazettal of the necessary changes and to let the market know very clearly that it is what is going to be the case. Because if you have positive vetting, the vetting period can range from over a month to several months until the end of the LegCo session. So, in the meanwhile, the market will have to speculate. And this is not good for a stable and healthy market.

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

Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:27


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