LCQ9: Progress of Public housing projects

     Following is a question by Hon Stephen Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Ms Winnie Ho, in the Legislative Council today (October 26):
     According to the five-year public housing production forecast (housing production forecast) announced by the Housing Bureau in the latest quarter, the completion dates of about 7 600 Public Rental Housing/Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme (PRH/GSH) flats have been revised from 2022-2023 to 2023-2024, and about 8 500 PRH/GSH flats and 1 300 other Subsidised Sale Flats from 2023-2024 to 2024-2025. The authorities have pointed out that the outbreak of the fifth wave of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 has led to a shortage of labour and problems in the delivery of construction materials from the Mainland, resulting in the delay in the progress of these public housing projects. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has assessed (i) if these project delays are occurrences under special circumstances or are persistent ones, (ii) if these delays have constituted a continually worsening trend, and (iii) the impacts brought about by these delays (including those on people's livelihood and their confidence in the Government's efforts to increase housing and land supply);
(2) whether specific measures are in place to improve these project completion deferral situations, with a view to catching up with the housing supply targets; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether the aforesaid about 7 600 PRH/GSH flats originally scheduled to be completed in 2022-2023 involve the Tai Po Area 9 project (i.e. Fu Tip Estate); if so, of the details; whether it has assessed if the deferred completion of these about 7 600 flats will affect the implementation of the "Public Rental Housing Advance Allocation Scheme"; and
(4) given that the Housing Bureau currently does not provide information of deferred projects and the number of flats involved in its quarterly announcement of the housing production forecast, whether the authorities will provide more information (including the latest completion date of each public housing project) when announcing housing production forecast in future; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     Having consulted the Development Bureau, our reply to the question raised by the Hon Stephen Wong is as follows.
(1) to (3) In early 2022, the pandemic has led to problems such as labour shortage and in the delivery of construction materials from the Mainland to Hong Kong, which had impacted on the progress of individual public housing development projects. Currently, the labour supply and delivery arrangement of the construction materials have generally resumed normal. The Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) will continue to monitor the progress of various projects and take corresponding mitigation measures, including urging construction contractors to increase manpower, expediting progress, stepping up site inspections, convening site meetings, carrying out site supervision and on-site examination, etc. These measures help address the challenges encountered during the construction stage in an effective and speedy manner, with a view to recovering the delay and facilitating the early completion of the projects according to the schedule.
     As stated in "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address", the Government will work closely with the HA and the Hong Kong Housing Society to increase public housing supply in the first five-year period by enhancing quantity, speed, efficiency and quality, thereby shortening the waiting time for Public Rental Housing (PRH). According to the forecast as at September 2022, production of traditional public housing in the first five-year period (i.e. from 2023-24 to 2027-28) will increase to about 128 000 units. There will also be an addition of about 30 000 "Light Public Housing" units.
     "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address" announced the implementation of the "PRH Advance Allocation Scheme". The HA will adopt a phased completion approach in some PRH projects as far as practicable through planning, design and construction process, such as advancing the handing over of part of the site for construction as far as practicable, thus allowing earlier intake of PRH applicants. At this stage, it is confirmed that phased completion can be achieved for about 12 000 units from 2023-24 to 2027-28.
     As affected by the pandemic, the completion dates of about 7 600 PRH/Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme units have been revised from 2022-23 to 2023-24. They include Tai Po Area 9, i.e. Fu Tip Estate (about 6 800 units), and Lai Cho Road (about 800 units). These 7 600 units are not included in the 12 000 units mentioned above. The HA will adopt the above-mentioned measures to recover the delay and complete the relevant projects as soon as possible.
(4) To enhance transparency and to better monitor the future supply of public housing, the Development Bureau (DEVB) and the Housing Bureau (HB) will provide the public with more information on land and housing supply. As the development schedules and parameters of public housing projects estimated to be completed in the first five-year period are generally more certain, the HB will provide more information by uploading the project name, location, estimated number of flats, and completion year of the projects in the first five-year period onto the HB's webpage on a quarterly basis, so that the public can have more convenient access to the details of various projects. As regards the public housing projects in the second five-year period, they are mostly at "land production" stage. The DEVB will release information on land area, estimated land availability year, and estimated number of flats, etc. according to the progress of land production of individual projects. The relevant information will be updated by the DEVB on an annual basis. We believe that the enhanced arrangement of information dissemination will help the public understand more about the Government's public housing supply situation in the coming ten years, and allow different sectors of the community to better monitor the progress of the projects. The latest information of the above as at September 2022 have been uploaded onto the HB's and the DEVB's webpages.

Ends/Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:40