Macau's first site for open bidding in nearly four years will be sold on Wednesday, with the winning bid expected to serve as a benchmark for the enclave's land prices. At least 15 bids are expected by Hong Kong and Macau developers for two plots in Fai Chi Kei, northeast of the Macau Peninsula. They are 3,000 sq metres and 1,700 sq metres. Luxury residential towers are likely to be built on the sites facing the Inner Harbour between Macau and Zhuhai . The open bidding marks an effort by public works minister Lau Si-io to reform an opaque land-sale system left behind by his disgraced predecessor Ao Man-long, who is awaiting the final judgment of a trial in which he is accused of 76 counts of corruption. Centaline (Macau) Property Agency executive director Rico Kwok said the sites would fetch well above their minimum bidding prices of 95 million patacas and 55 million patacas. 'Proximity to the water is their major advantage, and the supply of land for open bidding is rare in the city,' Mr Kwok said. 'The bidding has attracted lots of Hong Kong and Macau developers.' Macau's land law requires sales to be carried out through open bidding, although exceptions can be made with the chief executive's permission. But since the 1999 handover, only one plot out of hundreds has been sold through open bidding. In February 2004, the first site opened to bidding fetched 67 million patacas - more than three times the minimum bidding price the government set. Macau developer Lei Meng-kuong acquired the 1,000 sq metre site, also on the northeast of the Macau Peninsula, and turned it into the Grand Seaview Heights residential tower. 'People were wondering if it was worth paying so much but the developer has cleaned up beautifully,' Mr Kwok said. Flats in the 30-storey tower have been sold at HK$2,000 to HK$2,500 per square foot. Land sales in Macau have been severely criticised, with protesters calling them government 'land giveaways'. Critics such as legislator Au Kam-san say large sites have been sold without open bidding and at a fraction of their market value. In response, Mr Lau has pledged to amend the outdated land law and review the way land is valued. Mr Au welcomed the open bidding as a 'small step' towards a transparent system. 'Although it is a small step, it is commendable. Hopefully open bidding will be carried out for a greater number of sites.' Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah announced in August that the government would carry out open bidding, and Mr Lau unveiled details regarding the bidding last month.