Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 3):
While the Government has reduced in this financial year the rent for short term tenancies of government land by 20% for three months, some operators of temporary car parks operating on government land under short term tenancies have recently increased the parking fees of their car parks. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has surveyed the situation of parking fee revision of these car parks after the rental reduction by the Government; if it has, of the number of car parks which have lowered the parking fees and the percentage of the number of these car parks in the total number of the car parks concerned; if not, whether it plans to do so;
(b) given that it has been reported that about half of the temporary car parks are currently run by four major tenant-operators, how the Government ensures that the rental reduction of government land will ultimately benefit the many hirers of parking spaces instead of a few tenants of the land; and
(c) given that in reply to a question of this Council on December 11, 2002, the Government stated that instead of setting the parking fees for container vehicles itself, it would allow the market to determine the fees in order to minimise government interference in the private operators' commercial activities, but some container truck drivers have pointed out that the above measure of reducing rental of government land had already interfered with market operation, whether the Government will consider introducing certain terms (e.g. obliging operators of car parks to reduce the parking fees correspondingly) in its rental reduction next time, so as to ensure that the rental concession will benefit hirers of parking spaces?
In the 2009-10 Budget, the Financial Secretary announced the Government's measure to provide a rental reduction by about 20% for most Government properties and short term tenancies of Government land for three months. This measure, which supports enterprises in their operation, is applicable to tenants operating fee-paying public car parks on Government land. It has taken effect since April this year.
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) The Lands Department (Lands D) lets Government land by open tender for operating temporary fee-paying public car parks under short term tenancies. In general, it is awarded to the highest bidder. Being the landlord, the Government does not regulate the fees charged by the tenants for operating such car parks, which is a matter for the market to determine. In taking forward the above relief measure, the Government has not required the tenants to transfer to the consumers the benefits they have gained from the rental concession. Therefore, when implementing this rental concession measure for operating temporary car parks under short term tenancies, the Lands D reduces the rents payable by eligible tenants in accordance with the laid-down rules and does not intervene in how fees are charged on the users of parking spaces. But upon my request, the Lands D has written to all the relevant tenants, and hope that they could, as far as possible, share the benefits they have gained from the rental concession with their customers, so as to assist the community to ride over the difficult time. The Lands D has not conducted any survey on whether the relevant car parks have revised parking fees after the introduction of the rental concession. In fact, it is not the practice of the Lands D to conduct any survey or regulate parking fees when land is let for car parking use. We therefore do not plan to conduct such a survey specific to this rental concession measure.
(b) Rental concession for eligible short term tenancies on Government land is one of relief measures introduced by the Financial Secretary to "support enterprises and preserve jobs". It aims to relieve enterprises' pressure of downsizing or help them resolve difficulties in operation through reducing their operation costs. We consider that the current direct rental concession to the relevant tenants has generally achieved this policy objective.
(c) As one of the relief measures introduced by the Government in response to the current economic environment, rental concessions will not have the effect of intervention in the operation of the market. On May 26, 2009, the Financial Secretary announced a new round of relief measures and extended the 20% rental concession for short term tenancies introduced earlier on for another three months. In the light of the above considerations, the Government has no intention of requiring the tenants to reduce the parking fees correspondingly in the terms and conditions of the tenancies. But Lands D will write again to all the relevant tenants, reiterating that we hope they would, as far as possible, share the benefits they have gained from the rental concession with their customers.
Ends/Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:49