Sino Land chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong said property prices in Hong Kong would not drop as much as they did after the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98. Mr Ng said yesterday there were differences between that crisis and the current one. 'There was an oversupply in the Hong Kong property market after the crisis in 1997-98. But we don't have the problem right now,' he said. According to research by Centaline Property Agency, property prices dropped 60 per cent within a year after the Asian financial crisis. In comparison, prices have fallen about 16 per cent since June. Mr Ng expected the banks to cut interest rates, which would boost the property market and other business sectors. 'Hong Kong is very lucky. We have the backup of the mainland,' he said. 'The economy will need time to turn around, but it won't take as long as before.' As banks have tightened mortgages to homebuyers, Mr Ng said, his company might provide second mortgages to buyers of its flats. As for the mainland market, Sino Land executive director Thomas Tang Wing-yung said the company had made major site acquisitions in Chengdu and Chongqing. Mr Tang said Sino Land did not need to make accounting provisions for the mainland projects. 'The land prices are reasonable. We expect we can still generate reasonable profits,' he said. In the retail leasing market, Mr Ng said the company would try its best to help tenants get through the tough financial times, but no measures had been decided. Sino Land had no plans to lay off staff or cut salaries or put any projects on hold, he said. 'We have several office buildings to be completed in the near future. We have to hire more people for their management,' said Mr Ng. Shares of Sino Land fell 5.33 per cent to close at HK$6.04 yesterday.