Enough funds for public housing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 3:00am

I refer to Albert Cheng King-hon's column ("Stamp duty windfall must be directed to those priced out of property market", March 8).

He said "the government is not expected to meet the target of building 15,000 public housing flats annually over the next five years" and indicated that there is a shortage of funds for the construction works. He is wrong on both counts.

The Housing Authority has a five-year rolling public housing construction programme. This is reviewed and adjusted annually in accordance with the latest demand and supply situation.

In the five-year period 2012/13-2016/17, sufficient land has been allocated to the authority to allow it to produce more than 75,000 public rental flats, with an annual average production of in excess of 15,000 flats. These projects are under construction or at an advanced tender stage.

In line with the chief executive's pledge to expedite the production of public housing, the authority will expedite the completion of projects as far as possible by making use of pre-casting elements and shortening the preparatory work at the project planning stage.

As a result of these efforts to speed up production, the authority will now advance the completion of two projects, in Anderson Road and Tuen Mun, from the second five-year period. This will result in an increase in supply from 75,600 flats to 79,000 flats during the five-year period from 2012/13-2016/17.

We will continue to step up efforts to explore feasible ways to expedite the construction of public housing.

The authority published its latest budget and forecast exercise for the period 2012/13 to 2016/17.

This shows that it will continue to have sufficient financial resources to meet its recurrent expenditure and thus be able to implement the public housing construction and other programmes for the whole of the forecast period.

Beyond this, the government has assured the authority that should additional financial or other resources be required, action will be taken in a timely manner to ensure that the public housing construction programme can continue at full pace so that the chief executive's commitment to increase production to 100,000 units in the next five-year period from 2018/19 onwards will be met.

In this regard, for example, the Housing Department has been given approval to create additional posts to ensure that the new Home Ownership Scheme projects can also be taken forward by the Housing Authority on a fast-track basis.

D. W. Pescod, director of housing