Few sectors of industry receive less sympathy from the public than property developers. Developers were able to make fortunes during the years when Hong Kong was expanding, and became such a force in the economy that, if they were not actually able to dictate official policy, they certainly succeeded in influencing it significantly over the years. Even now, the property developers have the Government's ear, and that is unquestionably one reason why the Policy Address included a proposal to scrap the Home Ownership Scheme (H0S). The administration's goal of encouraging people out of subsidised flats into the housing market by a variety of schemes is - even in a scaled-down form - helping a community, once dependent on the Government for its housing, towards a more self-reliant society, with higher aspirations. That is a good thing for the economy and the property market. Once couples get on the property ladder, they can move up-market as circumstances permit. A report by investment house Morgan Stanley claims that the number of families in the sandwich class, with income too high to qualify for public sector flats, but too low to afford a mortgage, has dropped dramatically since the 1980s when only five per cent of households could service a mortgage on a low-cost flat. Morgan Stanley estimates another 380,000 households are now in a position to buy entry-level homes. On those figures, it may make sense to scale back the scheme, as long as the Government's push towards 70 per cent home ownership goes on. The risk in bowing to developers' demands is that they may try to control the market once more. The economic crisis, combined with official housing strategy, forced them to produce better housing at a more realistic cost. Their days of paying grossly-inflated sums for land, then manipulating supply to force the market higher, appear to have ended. Property is no longer the driving force in the economy that it once was and must not become so again.