Sandwich class get flats boost
HONGKONG will ask the Land Commission to grant six hectares of land to allow the construction of 5,000 Housing Society flats by 1996 to be sold to ''sandwich class'' people at a discount price.
The Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Tony Eason said that the Government had proposed in the 1993-94 Land Disposal Programme to grant the land to the society at concessionary prices expected to be about half the full market value.
Although the meeting of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group has been affected by the recent political row, Mr Eason did not believe the Land Commission would encounter similar difficulties.
''The Land Commission has always worked very positively and constructively to agree on a land disposal programme to meet the needs of the economy. There is no reason to believe there would not be a meeting,'' Mr Eason said.
''I expect we would have a meeting in the normal way but we have yet to agree on the date.'' The Land Commission is due to meet this month, and several dates have been proposed to the Chinese side.
Mr Eason said the six hectares proposed included sites in Tseung Kwan O and Ma On Shan.
The sites are for the first stage of the long-term sandwich housing scheme to provide a total of 10,000 flats for the sandwich class over the next five years.
As immediate relief, $2 billion will be made available in the next financial year to help 3,000 sandwich class families buy flats.
''Their aspirations for home ownership would be frustrated for too long if we simply relied on a gradual expansion of the existing assisted housing programme, an increase in their earnings to catch up with flat prices or a further adjustment in prices,''Mr Eason said.
''It is for these reasons that the Government decided to speed up implementation of the scheme by making funds available to provide the subsidy more directly.'' Mr Eason said successful applicants would be subsidised at 25 per cent of the flats' prices.
Mr Eason said the bottom half of the estimated 45,000 sandwich class households in Hongkong would be the first to benefit from the two schemes.
The Housing Society will be responsible for matching the amount of support to individual applicants.
Flats bought under the scheme will be subject to strict criteria when changing hands.
Mr Eason said for the first five years, the flats could only be sold back to the Housing Society at the purchase price.
During the second five years, the flats could be sold at the then prevailing prices of sandwich class flats.
Since the scheme aims to benefit first time sandwich class buyers, Mr Eason said applicants would be vetted thoroughly.
''There is no question of the scheme taking away anything from people now eligible or who are already enjoying public housing assistance,'' he said.
Meeting Point, after talks with Mr Eason yesterday, criticised the interim scheme for running counter to the spirit of helping sandwich class families buy their own properties.
They said the proposal to subsidise 3,000 families to purchase flats on the market would imply additional demand and upward pressure on prices, adversely affecting those who would not benefit from the scheme.