A Housing Authority member called yesterday for a five-year suspension of the Home Ownership Scheme to regain public confidence. The proposal will be submitted for discussion at the authority's annual meeting today. Alex Choy Kan-pui admitted the suspension might cost the Government billions of dollars in potential revenue but said it was necessary following the piling scandals and falling prices in the private housing sector. 'The Housing Authority should really ask itself whether it still wishes to continue its present substantive role as an estate developer,' he said. 'With falling property prices, can the Home Ownership Scheme still manage to sustain an enormous return? Or can some of the land for the scheme be changed to develop other things to ensure no drop in government revenue?' Mr Choy said a review was needed as the number of deposit refunds in the scheme had risen from 400 cases in 1996-97 to 1,541 during 1998-99 while the level of over-applications has subsided in the wake of the piling scams. He said the suspension would give the authority a breathing space and allow measures to be taken to restore residents' confidence towards the standard of housing under the scheme. He believed the authority should use other means to help first-time home-buyers while completed but unsold flats under the scheme could be leased out to those on the waiting list for public housing. But fellow authority member Wong Kwun feared such a suspension would not only lead to total domination by the private housing sector but also affect the financing of the public housing programme. Sales of Home Ownership Scheme flats comprise about 70 per cent of the authority's total income.