Balancing act

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2012, 12:00am


In order to help stabilise property prices, increasing land supply is one of the priorities of the new administration. It is easier said than done, however. Take one look at the example of the failed tender at Tai Wai station, and the complexity of the issue becomes clear. The 2,900-unit project attracted three top developers to submit tenders, but the MTR rejected them all on the grounds that they were not sufficient to cover the risks from the site's development. The terms are such that the MTR will also own much of the rights of future shopping malls on the site, depriving the developers of a future cash cow.

The result is that the government's wish to increase land supply - partly through its majority-owned MTR - has become a challenge it must overcome. On the other hand, the MTR has a mandate to run according to prudent commercial principles, and the investment community treats the MTR as a listed property company, since the bulk of its profits come from real estate. Clearly, different parties are merely defending their interests, and a balancing act takes a lot of political skills and will.