Financial Secretary John Tsang calls for Legco to back property curbs
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah on Wednesday urged lawmakers to support the government’s cooling measures for the property market, saying they were needed to stabilise flat prices.
The bills for the measures were tabled in the Legislative Council on Monday and debate on them will continue next Monday.
Tsang said Hong Kong’s property prices grew by only a single-digit percentage in the first half of the year, down from a 20 per cent for 2012.
He said this showed that the market curbs had been effective since they were introduced October last year.
Tsang was speaking before leaving Hong Kong for an Apec finance ministers’ meeting in Bali.
The government is facing calls to exempt certain kinds of buyers – such as charity groups and companies set up by Hong Kong permanent residents – from a buyer’s stamp that forms part of the curbs.
The finance chief would only say that the curbs would be scrapped “in the fullness of time”, adding that this was not expected to happen in the immediate future.
“Our major task in the property market is to solve the issue of supply. This cannot be done within a short time,” he said.
“What we have rolled out are unusual measures in an unusual situation,” he said.
The cooling measures introduced in October are a 15 per cent “buyer’s stamp duty” levied on foreign and corporate buyers of residential flats, a “special stamp duty” against the resale of flats within 36 months, adjusted from 24 months, and a “double stamp duty” levied on all buyers of residential and non-residential properties, except Hong Kong permanent residents who don’t already own a flat.
The taxes have already taken effect, although Legco is only now dealing with the relevant bills.