How about a ‘Hong Kong first’ housing agenda for Carrie Lam’s 2018 policy address?
I am writing in response to the government consultation on the 2018 policy address.
I advocate a “Hong Kong first” agenda to drive the government’s vision. A responsible government should always take care of the interests of citizens first, and use all possible methods to prevent their future from being compromised.
Speculation activities have contributed a lot to Hong Kong’s skyrocketing property prices. Despite the imposition of double stamp duty and buyer’s stamp duty targeting second-time and foreign buyers, respectively, speculators from mainland China have not been deterred from investing in Hong Kong property, which has contributed to record highs in recent land sales and property transactions. As of June, resale prices for private flats had risen for 26 straight months.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor can follow in the footsteps of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, by radically banning home sales to most foreigners.
“It’s the birthright of New Zealanders to buy homes at a fair price,” Associate Finance Minister David Parker was quoted as saying. Eventually, it is expected that speculation activities will be halted and property prices cannot be driven up further.
I applaud former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s efforts to put an end to parallel trading and birth tourism. However, it is worrying that 150 one-way permits are still being issued every day on average, as the quota is solely dependent on the discretion of the mainland government. Hong Kong’s immigration policy should be in the hands of Hong Kong people.
Moreover, some new immigrants are having a hard time here. The continued influx of immigrants will intensify competition for welfare and resources with existing residents, especially the scarce land and housing resources, which cannot be increased significantly within a short period of time.
Anfield Tam, Quarry Bay
Follow New Zealand and ban non-residents from buying homes
Hong Kong residents are facing serious housing issues. With limited land resources and ever-rising demand, the housing situation is only worsening and home ownership is out of reach for many Hongkongers.
The New Zealand government, facing a similar housing affordability crisis, has passed a bill in parliament restricting access to non-resident homebuyers.
“This government believes that New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthier foreign buyers,” said David Parker, New Zealand’s associate finance minister. “This law ensures that the market for our homes is set in New Zealand, not on the international market.”
It does not matter whether it is New Zealand or Hong Kong, the housing market should give priority to locals, and not be a place for wealthy foreigners to gamble and outbid residents. After all, local social issues and citizens’ welfare should be the primary concern. The government should ensure a healthy balance between boosting economic growth and the welfare of the people.
In fact, our government has tried to improve Hong Kong’s overall living standards in recent years, such as planning to increase the number of public and private housing estates. But immigration and wealthy overseas buyers do have a large impact on the housing situation.
Will the ban in New Zealand inspire our government to design a similar scheme for Hongkongers, to show its wholehearted commitment to tackling the housing crisis?
Heidi Cheng, Tseung Kwan O