Leung Chun-ying

Sell flats at construction cost so more Hongkongers can own homes, CY Leung suggests

Chief executive says more units can be made affordable if people support his government in finding land for housing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 11:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has proposed that flats’ price tags be pegged to their construction cost to help increase home ownership rates in the city.

Such flats can be sold for as low as about HK$1 million or HK$2 million, the city’s leader said, while addressing guests at a dinner hosted by the Rotary Club of Hong Kong on Wednesday. Leung said that he believed it was possible to make flats that affordable.

“It depends on how the society would like to deal with the land shortage ... to complete the rezoning and construction of infrastructure,” he added.

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He maintained that there was still plenty of land in Hong Kong that had not been developed.

“It’s Hong Kong people’s land. Should we rezone it to build flats? If buyers would need to pay only the construction costs, it’s possible that the flats can be sold for HK$1 million-plus each. And many people can afford [this price].”

Leung, however, did not elaborate on how this could work out, or where such land sites are located.

He urged the public to support his government in finding land for housing. He did not name anyone when it came to the topic of opposing rezoning plans or launching judicial reviews, but said that the only outcome of such moves would be a delay in the government’s work to develop land.

“Who would benefit ? Who would suffer ?” Leung asked.

Almost half of his speech was spent talking about his government’s housing policies, with the Hong Kong chief executive repeating that boosting supply was the top priority.

He said figures showed that from this year to 2021, private flat production would total 93,000 units, a record high in the past 12 years.

“If prices dropped by about HK$500,000 for each of these flats because of the increase in supply, the total savings for buyers would be some HK$46 billion.”

Leung has made resolving housing problems one of his priorities since he became the chief executive in 2012. He said: “The land belongs to us, not a particular individual or the government. We develop our land, and build infrastructure, rezone it and build flats on it.

“And we sell the flats at construction cost. Why not? The crux of the matter is whether our society is willing to do its best to let the rezoning of such land be completed as soon as possible.”

In his address, he also touched on the importance of developing technology and innovation, which he believed would be Hong Kong’s economic engine for the future.