Doubt cast on HOS effect on prices

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 May, 2010, 12:00am

Acting housing minister Yau Shing-mu said yesterday it was debatable whether to resume the Home Ownership Scheme because of soaring home prices, as the sale of subsidised flats did not always help curb prices.

'HOS flats themselves do not necessarily, or very often do not, have the impact of suppressing flat [prices]. Therefore it's debatable if we should [rebuild HOS flats] when flat prices soar,' Yau said at the Legislative Council's housing panel meeting.

Yau faced a group of lawmakers and deputations, the majority of whom urged the government to resume building and selling HOS flats.

Of the 22 deputations attending yesterday's meeting or submitting their views, 16 were in favour of resuming the scheme. Five were against it, while one person did not make his stance clear.

Those in favour of rebuilding HOS flats said many Hongkongers whose income exceeded the limit for applying for public rental flats were not rich enough to rent or buy a private property. HOS flats would give them a chance to own a home, as well as allow some tenants of public estates to upgrade their housing by buying one. A few speakers argued the government should not intervene in the market.

'Society has a clear consensus about relaunching the HOS, and the government should build a suitable amount of HOS flats,' legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said. He was echoed by some other lawmakers.

But Yau said the public had voiced different opinions. Home ownership should be a matter of personal choice and affordability, he said.