Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (8)
144. The current-term Government adopts a multi-pronged strategy to actively expedite land supply for housing. There has been a steady land supply for private housing development over the past five years, involving around 86 000 units. It is estimated that the overall land supply in 2021-22 can provide about 20 000 units, around 7 000 more than the supply target.
145. Looking ahead, the 2022-23 Land Sale Programme will comprise a total of 13 residential sites and four commercial sites, capable of providing about 8 000 residential units and about 300 000 square metres of commercial floor area respectively. With the residential sites under the Land Sale Programme, together with railway property development, private development and redevelopment projects as well as the Urban Renewal Authority (URA)’s projects, the potential land supply for the whole year is expected to have a capacity of providing about 18 000 units.
146. As for land supply for private housing development in the short to medium term, we will secure approximately 103 hectares of land in the coming five years, and make available to the market sites for the production of over 57 000 units through land sales or putting up railway property developments for tender. Among such land, nearly 40 per cent comes from NDAs/New Town Extensions, another 40 per cent from other districts under the Government Land Sale Programmes, and the remaining from railway property developments in design stage. The above figures have not taken into account URA projects and other private land development projects.
147. In the coming year, I will introduce various enhancement measures to expedite the process, optimise land use and promote the application of I&T in the construction industry, with a view to speeding up the use of land and housing production.
Streamline Statutory Procedures
148. The Development Bureau (DEVB) is pressing ahead with the review of the land development legislation, with a view to streamlining development processes and statutory procedures and hence shortening the time of land creation. We plan to introduce amendment bills into the LegCo within this year, hoping that all sectors of the community will support the reform so that the various reclamation works and NDA projects as well as public and private housing projects can be completed as early as possible.
Develop Multi-storey Industrial Buildings
149. With the launch of various large-scale NDA projects, many brownfield operations in the NDAs will inevitably be affected by land resumption. The Government has engaged a consultancy firm to conduct a market sounding exercise to gauge market interest. With the benefit of this exercise, the Government initially tends to identify sites in Hung Shui Kiu and Yuen Long for the development of multi-storey industrial buildings by leveraging market forces. These buildings will be mainly used by logistics and automobile repairing industries and will provide space for other appropriate uses and for brownfield site business operators affected by land resumption. The DEVB seeks to sell the first piece of land concerned by public tender next year.
Promote the Adoption of Innovation and Technology in the Construction Industry
150. I allocated $1 billion in 2018 to set up the Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) to boost the capacity of the construction industry to adopt new technology. After operating for more than three years, the CITF is delivering results. I now propose to inject another $1.2 billion for its ongoing operation and implementation of enhancement measures launched recently, including expanding the funding scope and increasing the funding ceiling.
151. Besides, I have earmarked $30 million to promote applied R&D as well as the adoption of new materials and innovative construction technologies in public works and the industry in the coming three years, with a view to enhancing the overall productivity and performance of the construction industry.
Further Encourage the Adoption of Modular Integrated Construction Method
152. Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) helps substantially shorten construction time, address the problem of manpower shortage in the construction industry and reduce the environmental impacts brought by construction works. To expedite housing supply, the Government will introduce more concessionary measures to encourage the adoption of MiC, including increasing the concession of floor area from the current 6 per cent to 10 per cent and providing corresponding site coverage concession as well as supporting applications for exceeding building height limits due to increase in floor area caused by the adoption of MiC. The Government will put the above measures in place in the middle of this year.
153. The Government has identified some 350 hectares of land for the provision of about 330 000 public housing units to meet the demand for about 301 000 public housing units in the coming 10 years. Of these 330 000 units, about one-third are scheduled for completion in the first five-year period with the remaining in the second five‑year period.
154. On private housing, it is estimated that the completion of private residential units will average over 19 000 units annually in the five years from 2022 onward, representing an increase of about 14 per cent over the annual average of the past five years. The projected first-hand private residential unit supply for the next three to four years is 98 000 units, reaching a new high in recent years.
155. Besides, the Government has already identified sufficient land for the provision of more than 17 000 transitional housing units. About 2 300 units are already in operation. In addition, more than 4 200 units are under construction and are expected for completion this year. It is expected that another 11 000 more units will be completed for operation by the end of next year.
Mortgage Insurance Programme
156. Over the years, the Government has been suppressing investors’ and speculators’ demand for local property while striving to assist people in buying their own homes. At the end of 2019, the Government relaxed the Mortgage Insurance Programme (MIP) of the HKMC Insurance Limited. Public response was positive with the property market remaining stable. Given the current market situation, the supply in the next few years and the need to provide assistance for the first-time home buyers and families seeking self-occupied “flat for flat”, I have instructed the HKMC Insurance Limited to make amendments to the MIP. For these home buyers and families, the cap on the value of a property eligible for a mortgage loan of a maximum cover of 80 per cent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio will be raised from $10 million to $12 million. For the first-time home buyers, the cap on the value of a property eligible for a mortgage loan of a maximum cover of 90 per cent LTV ratio will be raised from the existing $8 million to $10 million. The HKMC Insurance Limited will announce the details later. As for other property demand management measures, we have no plan for relaxation.
Building a Green City
157. To strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, the Government will implement strategies and measures to reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050 published last year. Concurrently, the Government will continue to promote new energy transportation so as to further enhance air quality. Over the past few years, resources have been allocated in the Budget to take forward the building of a green city and implement a range of measures on various fronts to combat climate change.
Green Tech Fund
158. I will inject an additional funding of $200 million into the Green Tech Fund (GTF), with a view to further promoting decarbonisation and enhancing environmental protection in Hong Kong. The first round of GTF applications received an overwhelming response, and the second round of applications has commenced. The funding injected will primarily be used to subsidise projects in priority areas such as net-zero electricity generation, energy saving and green buildings, green transport and waste reduction, which will in turn help support innovation and create job opportunities for the I&T industry. Some 40 additional projects can be funded with the new injection.
Charging Facilities for Electric Vehicles
159. The Government launched the $2 billion EV-charging at Home Subsidy Scheme in October 2020 to promote the installation of EV charging-enabling infrastructure in car parks of the existing private residential buildings. Given the overwhelming response, we will inject an additional sum of $1.5 billion to extend the scheme for four years to the 2027-28 financial year. The scheme will support the installation of EV charging-enabling infrastructure for a total of about 140 000 parking spaces in some 700 existing private residential buildings, accounting for about half of the eligible parking spaces in Hong Kong.
160. The Government is preparing to gradually convert some existing petrol or liquefied petroleum gas filling stations into quick charging stations, so as to support the provision of charging services for more diverse types of vehicles. We will also explore the feasibility of developing some larger filling station sites under the “single site, multiple use” model.
Enhance the Capability of the Low-lying Areas to Withstand Threats
161. Climate change will lead to rising sea level and extreme waves. To enhance the capability of the coastal areas in responding to climate change, the Government plans to earmark funding in the next five years to take forward improvement projects and management measures for 26 low-lying or windy residential areas that are prone to high risks. We will also commence strategic studies on coastal management, with a view to providing guidelines on planning and land use as well as formulating the related long-term strategies and preventive measures. In addition, we will seek funding approval of about $8.4 billion this year for carrying out drainage improvement works in various districts to enhance the flood control capability.
(To be continued.)
Ends/Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Issued at HKT 13:01
Issued at HKT 13:01
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