Hong Kong's biggest political party has proposed a tweak to the government's new home-buying plan that would effectively see the old Home Ownership Scheme reintroduced by the back door.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong wants to 'refine' the My Home Purchase Plan in such a way that it would be similar to the old scheme which the government has steadfastly refused to revive.
The pro-Beijing party, which has the most votes (nine) in the Legislative Council, said the scheme should give applicants the option to buy flats at a discount without renting them first.
The My Home Purchase Plan was announced in Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policy address last year as an initiative to help the sandwich class - those too wealthy for public housing but unable to afford a home in the private sector - acquire residential flats.
Under the proposal, tenants will lease the flats at market rent for up to five years. They can choose to purchase the units between the third and fifth years of the lease. A total of 5,000 small and medium-sized flats will be built under the plan, to be available from 2014.
A subsidy equivalent to half the rent paid by tenants will be used as part of the down payment.
DAB legislator Starry Lee Wai-king said her party was lobbying the government to amend the plan in a way similar to the Home Ownership Scheme, which the administration has been reluctant to revive despite consensus among political parties.
'Allowing tenants to buy the flats at a discount price without having to rent them for some years will make the plan more attractive,' she said.
Like the Home Ownership Scheme, Lee suggested that the government could let applicants buy the flats with a down payment of less than one per cent. Tenants should pay a land premium when they resold the flat, she said.
The party is arranging a meeting with the government to discuss the proposal, the lawmaker said.
A Transport and Housing Bureau spokeswoman said the government was still working out the details of the My Home Purchase Plan with the Hong Kong Housing Society, and needed some time before announcing the details.