The government hopes to boost lacklustre buying interest from property developers by offering smaller plots in urban areas at land auctions in the next financial year. The move comes after the administration raised only half of about $20 billion it was looking to reap from land sales this financial year. The next land application list is expected to be disclosed late next month, after Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen delivers his budget speech on February 22. Director of Lands Patrick Lau Lai-chiu said: 'Obviously, it will be a lot harder to make available sites ... if you are talking about the really popular urban districts. It will be up to private landlords if they want to make their properties and plots available for sale.' The announcement was largely welcomed by developers, who have long said the land auction system is inefficient. This financial year, only three plots have been sold - on September 27, for a total of $10.15 billion. Donald Fan Tung, executive director of Regal Hotels International, said including more small and medium-sized sites in urban areas on the application list would increase interest and participation among developers in auctions. 'The fact that no land has been triggered for auction in the last four months implies a discrepancy in the trigger prices of the developers and the government,' Mr Fan added. Barbara Ho Ng Yin-yue, New World Development's sales and marketing director, called on the government to lower the threshold needed to trigger a site for auction. Under a modified system announced last June, proposed prices need reach only 80 per cent of the government's asking price to trigger an auction. 'The key is to successfully trigger a site for sale. Once it is on the auction block, I believe it can be sold at an ideal price,' she said. Ms Ho added that land premiums for certain sites were too high. The government says land premiums received this financial year were already double its target of about $10 billion. This increase has largely made up for the 50 per cent shortfall suffered in land auctions. As a result, Mr Lau said the government would be close to realising its estimate of $31.9 billion in land revenue for 2005/06.