The sale of land to build flats reserved for Hongkongers will continue and could become a formal, long-term policy, the development minister said yesterday.
The comment came a day after tenders for the first two sites offered under the "Hong Kong property for Hong Kong people" scheme, at Kai Tak, drew a strong response from developers, with 29 bids.
Speaking on an RTHK radio programme, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said the response showed the demand for land sites remained strong.
Chan said the government was considering offering more sites, including some in the northeastern New Territories. The scheme might need to pass through the Legislative Council so the government could run it more effectively, he said.
"We're going to legislate the Hong Kong Property for Hong Kong People scheme to prove the government's determination to implement this scheme in the long run," Chan said after the programme.
"The recent two sites that we offered were under a pilot scheme. If we want to extend the scheme and build on it, we think it would be better if we go through a legislative process," he said.
He said the government had been discussing the legislation details with the secretary for justice, but he did not reveal details.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing, chairman of Legco's housing panel, said he had not heard about the proposed legislation before.
"It's a bit strange because I think the scheme, which is an administrative policy, has not received much opposition and I don't see the need to make it a law," Wong said.
Under the programme, apartments built on the designated sites can be sold only to local permanent residents for the first 30 years. An eligible buyer can jointly own one with family members, who do not need to be permanent residents.
Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, national director for Greater China at property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, said the sale and resale conditions of apartments to be built on sites under the programme were currently written into the tender documents and land leases.
He said he believed the government might want to formalise these conditions into a law so all the terms would apply whenever a site is identified for the scheme.
"Right now these conditions are bound by a form of contract. But after legislation, they will be bound by the law, which may give some legal definition to some terms," he said.