Action urged on property prices
LEGISLATORS yesterday urged the Government to increase land supply to check rising property prices.
Bankers' representative David Li Kwok-po said the price of small to medium flats had risen by 60 per cent, and large flats by more than 90 per cent, while median income increased by only 28 per cent.
''The real solution is simple: increase the supply of land,'' Mr Li said. ''To do that, the Government must work to improve relations with China over economic issues.'' Liberal Party Chairman Allen Lee Peng-fei urged the Government to be more flexible on land use, especially on urban redevelopment, to suppress property prices and inflation.
More effective town planning could increase the supply of land, he said.
His Liberal Party colleague Lau Wah-sum said the Government should speed up vetting procedures for private sector redevelopment.
Building more new towns with better facilities to attract people could help ease the rocketing property price in urban areas, he suggested.
Legislator Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen suggested the Government should expand the public housing programme, especially the housing ownership scheme, to cover people with higher incomes.
China should quickly agree to the sale of 62 hectares of land beside the new airport railway, he said.
Welcoming the Government's decision to allow private developers to apply for land resumption, Mr Cheng said the administration should ensure residents were offered relocation and fair compensation, and that the resumed land was not held back.
Hui Yin-fat from the welfare sector attacked the Government for cutting property stamp duty, saying it was deviating from the objective of suppressing property speculation.
Both Mr Hui and independent Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja criticised recent remarks by Tony Eason, Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, that property owners would be unhappy if the Government imposed a capital gains tax.
''Hong Kong people were extremely angry about Mr Eason's words,'' Mr Hui said. ''The Government is not determined enough to combat property speculation and inflation.'' Pang Chun-hoi accused the Government of fuelling property prices by its massive purchase of civil service quarters at high prices, while Tam Yiu-chung warned the spiralling property prices were a time-bomb.
Mr Tam said the Government was trying to limit the supply of public housing by controlling land supply to the Housing Authority to fit in with the Government's projection on flat supply.
The Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union will stand vigil outside the Legco building next week to demand the Government take an active role to curb rocketing prices.