Optimism over extra 15 hectares of land

THE Government is cautiously optimistic that an extra 15 hectares of land can be granted before the end of the financial year.

The administration was collecting information to reply to questions raised by the Chinese side of the Sino-British Land Commission, which has to approve the grant, Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Fanny Law Chiu-fun, said.

She told legislators at yesterday's housing panel meeting that China had asked for more details on housing demand and supply and the geographical distribution of new flats. The questions were reasonable because the report on land supply and property prices passed to China did not include every detail.

The supplementary land disposal programme to China was tabled in July.

Mrs Law said housing supply was a complex issue and it was acceptable for China to take some time to look at it. China's response had been positive.

Asked whether the Government was satisfied with the 15 to 30 per cent drop in property prices, Mrs Law said the administration had never set a target, so there was no question of whether it had achieved its aim.


But she said it had yet to determine whether speculators had left the property scene. Only one of five developments granted under the new terms had come on stream.

Briefing lawmakers on the duties of the soon-to-be-established Housing Branch, Mrs Law denied it would take over jobs undertaken by the Housing Authority. Nor would it overlap with other departments and branches.

She was repeatedly asked whether the new branch would handle re-development, which was the ambit of the authority.

The Housing Branch would only concern itself with re-housing policy and the authority would retain all its statutory duties.


Asked whether the branch would have the final say on all housing issues, Mrs Law said the authority would still be the body to decide on matters within its terms of reference and not involving other departments.

She rejected suggestions that the branch should monitor office supply and building management because it would have a lot to do already.