Following is a question by the Hon Tang Siu-tong and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 27):
Regarding the measures taken by the Government to implement its housing policy, including recommending to the Housing Authority that the production of Home Ownership Scheme ("HOS") flats should cease indefinitely from 2003 onwards, halting all scheduled land auctions, suspending the Application List system until the end of 2003, co-ordinating the pace of property developments by the two railway companies and so on, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the numbers of jobs in the construction and related industries arising from the production of public rental housing, HOS housing and private domestic housing respectively, in each of the past three years;
(b) whether it has assessed the number of jobs in the construction and related industries that will be reduced as a result of the implementation of the above measures; if so, of a breakdown of the jobs that will be reduced by industries and types of work; if not, whether it plans to make such an assessment; and
(c) of the ways to alleviate the impact of the above measures on the employment market in the construction and related industries?
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) According to the Census and Statistics Department, an annual average of about 46,000 workers were employed in the construction of public and private residential flats during the past three years. A breakdown by year is shown at the Annex. Because of the wide coverage of construction-related industries, the number of relevant jobs in these industries cannot be identified. Therefore, relevant statistics are not available.
(b) In deciding to cease the Home Ownership Scheme, stop scheduled land auctions, suspend the Application List and better co-ordinate the property developments of the two railway corporations, we have carefully considered all the implications, including possible impact on construction employment. Since on-going construction projects will not be affected by the new measures, there will be no immediate reduction in job opportunities for construction workers. In future, housing production will be market-oriented. Apart from the provision of public rental housing for low-income families, residential flats will be provided by the private sector, with the overall supply of flats to be determined by developers having regard to market demand. The shortfall arising from the reduced production of public housing flats will be made up by the private sector.
(c) As mentioned in part (b) of my reply, generally speaking the new housing policy will have no significant adverse impact on the employment opportunities of construction and related industries.
End/Wednesday, November 27, 2002