An independent panel is to consider whether restrictions on investing the proceeds from selling shares in the Housing Authority's Link property trust should be relaxed. The government is privatising housing estate parking spaces and shopping malls through the Link real estate investment trust (reit). Proceeds from the sale of shares will top $30 billion, but there are limited options for investing the money: up to 30 per cent may be used to buy bonds denominated in US dollars; the balance may be invested in local-currency bonds or deposited with banks. Bonds and other fixed-income investment instruments denominated in US dollars are falling out of favour because of rising interest rates and the weakness of the US currency. Hong Kong banks have also decided to keep the interest rate on deposits low. Following a study expected to last three months, the three-member panel will recommend to the Housing Authority's finance committee whether restrictions should be relaxed to allow higher-risk investments. 'We're open to all options. But the Housing Authority should be prudent and risk-averse in its investments,' said panel member Sin Chung-kai. Meanwhile, the Housing Authority stressed last night that the listing of its 180 malls and car parks was legal. 'The legal opinion obtained is that the proposed divestment is clearly a proper use of the Housing Authority statutory powers and is within the [authority's] powers,' it said. Lawmaker Albert Cheng King-hon is expected to seek a judicial review of the privatisation today.