Authority has no plans to sell off commercial facilities

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:18am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:18am

I refer to Albert Cheng King-hon's column ("Link's campaign for more flexibility for Hong Kong reits should raise eyebrows", January 17) in which he said that "there is evidence to show that the cheap sell-off of public assets may be repeated" by the Hong Kong Housing Authority. This is wrong.

I would like to point out that the primary objectives behind the authority's decision to divest its commercial facilities in 2005 related to the need for the authority to focus its efforts on its core business: specifically to provide subsidised public housing to the needy; and to improve its financial situation through the income received from the divestment. The valuation of the divested properties was carried out by an independent professional property valuer and assessed at the then market value.

Indeed, I must point out that the authority did not sell off all of its commercial facilities. It retained a wide range of commercial and retail facilities in public housing estates to cater for the daily needs of its tenants.

As we have repeatedly pointed out, the authority has no plans to further divest its commercial facilities.

In fact, for all new public housing estates completed after the divestment, the authority has developed and is managing commercial facilities to meet the needs of residents. These include the latest regional shopping centre Domain in Yau Tong. The total area of commercial facilities currently managed by the authority is some 207,000 square metres. Let me repeat: the authority will continue to manage these commercial facilities and has no plans for further divestment.

As regards the financial position of the authority, according to its latest budget and forecast exercise, it will have sufficient financial resources to meet its recurrent expenditure and to implement the public housing construction programme during the period from 2013/14 to 2017/18.

The government's new total housing supply target will of course have resource implications for the authority in the coming years. The authority will continue to exercise prudent financial control and remain vigilant to make the best use of its resources in meeting its objective of providing public housing to those in need.

It has an ongoing dialogue with the government regarding its financial situation and will seek additional resources if necessary to meet its objective.

D. W. Pescod, director of housing