TOUGH action to stamp out property speculation was promised yesterday by a top aide to future leader Tung Chee-hwa. Leung Chun-ying, a post-handover executive councillor and head of Mr Tung's taskforce on housing policy, said the time had come to protect homebuyers. Speaking before a provisional legislature meeting in Shenzhen, Mr Leung said speculation had become so severe that end-users were being badly hurt. 'The way and the impact of the speculation now is different than in the past,' he said. 'Before, speculators liked to accumulate flats. Now they have so much money they can buy all the flats supplying the market at one time. End-users cannot keep pace, either in terms of the timing or the capital.' A taskforce report on housing policy was now ready, he said, and would be submitted to the Chief Executive-designate within a few days. Although Mr Leung would not reveal details of its contents, he said they would not be swayed from their task by short-term factors, such as concerns about anti-speculation measures hitting the stock market. 'We cannot allow speculation to burn hotter and hotter simply because the handover is approaching,' he said. Mr Leung would not say if the measure included value-added tax on transactions or whether mortgage rates would be tightened. He emphasised it was up to Mr Tung to decide if all the recommendations of the report were adopted. According to the Government figures, property transactions have rocketed in recent days. Out of 3,607 transactions in the first 11 days of this month, more than 10 per cent, or 382 deals, involved flats being sold before their original sale was processed. Estate agent Lam Chung-wai said speculators were still investing strongly in the property market. 'In cases where there is a long transaction period, some speculators do not even bother to look at flats they buy. Some just accept flats from other speculators,' he said. But he believed there would be a slight cooling in the market as the handover approached as speculators prepared for the curbs to be implemented by the new administration. Estate agent Sze Wing-ching believed action was needed. He said: 'If speculation is allowed, economic development, even the gap between rich and poor, will be influenced.'