Leung Chun-ying

Leung to increase construction of public housing flats by a third: source

Chief executive likely to boost annual number of flats available to needy by a third, says source

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 3:56am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was expected to raise the target for the construction of public housing flats by a third when he delivers his first policy address on Wednesday.

A person close to Leung said the target was likely to increase from the current 15,000 units per year to 20,000 for the duration of the chief executive's five-year term.

"Leung hopes to speed up construction of public housing, so the number of flats that would have taken seven years to build under the original schedule will be completed over the next five years," the source said.

But members of the Housing Authority, which is responsible for building public housing estates, expressed dissatisfaction with the new goal, saying the target should be at least 30,000 units annually.

Leung pledged during his election campaign to speed up construction of flats for the needy. The previous administration had set a target of 75,000 units over five years, or 15,000 per year.

The source said Leung would increase the annual mark to 20,000 units, as a short-term measure to address the pressing demand for affordable flats.

If the target was realised, the average number of new flats built in the city annually would reach 45,000 units - 20,000 public housing flats, 5,000 subsidised flats and 20,000 private flats.

Housing Authority member and former lawmaker Wong Sing-chi said: "The new target does not meet the demand of the public. Leung should make a breakthrough with this issue and promise 25,000 to 30,000 units a year."

Another authority member, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, said that at least 30,000 units per year were needed.

Wong said the lower-than-expected target resulted from the shortage of available land. "When there is more land, we will press the government to increase the target accordingly."

As for measures over the medium term, the source said the government would rezone government sites currently designated for community and institutional use for residential buildings.

"Leung said he would use every piece of land to address housing demand," the source said.

Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced a plan to create a land bank in his last policy address.

Tsang had said the government would consider a variety of methods, including land reclamation and the building of residential developments in green belts with less ecological value.

He also had said the rezoning of industrial land was an option.