Homebuyers fail to take Tung bait
Tung Chee-hwa's efforts to lure more families into buying homes seem to be floundering partly because of his halt to the sale of government land.
The ban Mr Tung ordered in June delayed the supply of some 117 hectares of land for 9,000 Mid-Levels and other apartments, the report said.
The moratorium, to be reviewed next March, also threatens the supply of 400 hectares of land for private flats. Only 52 per cent of families own their own homes, according to the report, the same figure as last year.
Critics have warned that the Chief Executive's hopes of 70 per cent home ownership by 2007 were unlikely to be fulfilled.
The report lists 62 pledges on housing. The Government failed on or delayed 10 of them, largely because of the ban on land sales and the need for a review of the numerous housing loan schemes introduced by Mr Tung over the year.
Hong Kong People's Council on Public Housing Policy spokeswoman Virginia Ip Chiu-ping said: 'The market has been collapsing because of Mr Tung's supply-boosting measures. No one will buy flats if the prices are falling.' An independent property consultant, Shih Wing-ching, shared these views and urged Mr Tung to leave matters to market forces. 'The Government cannot force people to buy homes if they don't want to,' Mr Shih said.
But the progress report says 70 per cent home ownership remains a firm target.
A Housing Bureau spokeswoman said: 'Only completed purchases were counted in the assessment of the home ownership rate.
'It is not abnormal for the increment to be minimal because many of the housing schemes to boost the ownership rate only started early this year.' The bureau said the target of supplying 85,000 flats a year remained unchanged.
Society for Community Organisation director Ho Hei-wah said he supported the 85,000-flat target but proposed building more public housing to supplement the private sector production.
According to Mr Tung's plan, the authority is responsible for about 50,000 units a year, while the remaining 35,000 will be provided by the private sector.
'The Government cannot order private developers to build flats. But it can adjust its own production plans to keep the 85,000-flat-a-year target,' he said.
Mr Ho, a co-opted member of the Housing Authority, said the body was capable of supplying at least 64,000 flats a year, based on its current manpower.