Hong Kong has billions of dollars in budget surplus but the people sleep at McDonald’s: why?
What is the use of having billions of dollars when the citizens are forced to sleep on the street or spend the night at McDonald’s – due to a lack of space in their tiny cubicle homes or to save on electricity bills?
Our administration has posted budget surpluses of billions of dollars for the last six or seven years, touching HK$138 billion this year, but residents still have to wait for more than five years for public housing. Meanwhile, the disadvantaged are cramped in fire-hazard subdivided flats without proper ventilation or living conditions, sidelined in the interest of “business first”.
The number of McRefugees is increasing every year. The number of new millionaires is also increasing, but still we are dropping down the list of prosperous cities on per capita GDP, now ranked 10th on the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update, where Macau is second and Singapore fourth.
The administration is failing to take care of people’s basic needs and to judiciously spend or invest its surplus billions. Our housing policy and land allocation for housing are faulty, which leaves room for shortages and appreciation of prices, so developers are happy as they profit.
If land meant for middle-class housing is sold to the highest bidder, who also tries to sell flats to the highest-paying buyer, how can home prices cool down when there is a short supply and no ceiling on the sale price for middle-class homes?
The more we postpone the issue of middle-class housing, the more we resist the development of the middle-class in the community, and our good governance and billions of dollars in surplus will be useless. Singapore is ahead and will continue to beat us.
A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui