Executive councillors defending the Chief Executive's housing target have come under fire for sending confusing signals to the property market. The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors warned yesterday that the ambiguous stance on the annual target of 85,000 flats would dampen the market. 'A few days ago, the Government said the target no longer existed. Today, it says the target just can't be achieved. The position is very confusing,' institute spokesman Chan Cheung-kit said. A row erupted last week when Tung Chee-hwa said his target in 1997 - 50,000 public flats and 35,000 from the private sector a year - had not existed since 1998. Legislators said they had been unaware of the change. There was further confusion when a newspaper quoted Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying as saying the target had not been abandoned. This was heightened yesterday when two councillors defended the ill-fated policy. Executive Councillor Henry Tang Ying-yen said: 'Mr Tung has never used the word 'scrap' . . . we continue to supply 50,000 flats in the public sector. But the private developers do not provide the 35,000 flats and therefore there is no such figure of 85,000. 'No longer exists' did not mean scrapping.' Tam Yiu-chung said: 'The private developers do not want to build 35,000 flats [each year] - the Government can do nothing about it.'