Hong Kong Property

Hongkongers want property curbs to continue or be strengthened, poll finds

Lawmakers' calls to drop taxes aimed at fighting speculation fail to win public support, poll finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 October, 2013, 3:00pm

Most people believe three taxes introduced to cool the property market should stay in place or be strengthened, a survey found, despite calls from lawmakers to make the measures "less spicy".

Three out of five people questioned by Chinese University's Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies believed there should be no exemptions to the special stamp duty, buyer's stamp duty and double stamp duty.

A further 14 per cent believed the cooling measures should be strengthened.

The survey had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.42 per cent.

The measures target purchases by companies and people who are not Hong Kong permanent residents, and aim to deter speculation.

But real estate and construction sector lawmaker Abraham Razack, who plans to "plug loopholes" by tabling two retrospective amendments to the bill, was undeterred by the findings.

"It is a matter of principle, not whose voice is louder," Razack said. "My amendments aim to restore flexibility to property ownership, which is a basic right of Hongkongers."

Buyers who are not permanent residents and companies must pay a special 15 per cent tax, on top of regular stamp duty.

One of Razack's amendments would see local corporate buyers refunded five years after their purchase, provided their shareholders had remained unchanged for three years. "If the government thinks public opinion is so important it should ensure the constitutional reform package follows the people's voices," Razack said, referring to controversy over the introduction of universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

The survey, which questioned 821 people between September 23 and 25, found between 40 and 50 per cent of respondents were against three proposed exemptions - for locally owned companies and charities, and for the sale of industrial properties.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Chan Kam-lam said the party would take public opinion into account when considering how to vote.

A survey by the University of Hong Kong, also released yesterday, found that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's popularity had bounced back to a level last seen in April.

The survey of 1,013 respondents found that Leung's rating on a scale of 0-100 increased 3.7 points to 49.4.