Pledge on subsidised housing reaffirmed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 July, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 July, 2002, 12:00am

The government's pledge to provide an annual 50,000 subsidised housing packages will not be changed, says the new Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands.

Briefing lawmakers on his policy plans yesterday, Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the downgrading of the Housing Authority to an advisory body would take 'a few years'.

Mr Suen said he shared critics' concerns that the body should not be chaired by the minister in charge of housing, when all its statutory powers are scrapped.

Last month, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced the powers of the Housing Authority would be cut and downgraded to an advisory body.

The Government has promised to provide an annual 50,000 housing packages, including public rental flats, Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats and loans.

Mr Suen said last week the government target to have 70 per cent of families owning their own home should be reviewed. But in response to legislators' concerns that the plan would result in a roll-back on the promised aid packages, Mr Suen said his comment about a review of the target was his 'personal opinion'.

'Everything should be decided by the government after consultation,' he said. 'The government has no plan to adjust the figure of 50,000 subsidised opportunities per year at present.'

Mr Suen said legislative amendments will be tabled to Legco before the end of this year to enable him to become chairman of the authority. But he said this should be a transitional measure.

Lawmakers have said the public's participation in housing affairs will be affected if the secretary assumed the dual role as head of the Housing Bureau and the advisory body in future.

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary for Housing Marco Wu Moon-hoi denied the Government will scrap the target of providing an annual 2,000 HOS flats after 2006.