Developers 'need incentive' on elderly care
Concessions should be offered to developers to encourage them to incorporate elderly homes and other community facilities in their projects, it has been suggested.
Incentives such as lower land premiums and bigger plot ratios should be offered, said Land Development Corporation board member Michael Lai Kam-cheung. This would help the Government resolve the problem of finding suitable locations and premises for social welfare services, especially institutional care for the elderly and disabled.
Director of Social Welfare Andrew Leung Kin-pong last year said private developers would be asked to incorporate social welfare services into their blueprints.
However, more than 26,000 elderly people are still waiting for a place in institutional care centres.
The Government has been able to buy only 500 places this year, in addition to 1,200 last year.
In his maiden policy address, Tung Chee-hwa pledged to buy 2,400 places from the private sector between 1998 and 2001.
Mr Lai, also chief executive of St James' Settlement, said premiums should be cut for areas reserved for community use.
'The corporation is very open-minded as long as the facilities are compatible with the projects,' he said. 'Our Government speaks highly about respect for the elderly and close family ties, but elderly homes are built in remote areas.
'Unless the Government is willing to shoulder some land prices and construction fees, no one will be interested in the business since the cost to operate quality homes is too high.' Mr Lai suggested some prime locations undergoing urban renewal, such as Wan Chai, be considered. He supported a means test, so well-off families could pay and alleviate the home operators' burden.