SDEV speaks on land sale programme

Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, speaking to the media on the land sale programme this afternoon (April 13):

Earlier this year when we announced the 2011-12 land sale programme, we had already said that we will adopt a two-pronged arrangement to supply land into the market to meet Hong Kong's housing as well as economic needs. Since then we have announced that in this month of April, we will be selling three pieces of residential land, all in Hung Hom district.

Earlier this afternoon, the Financial Secretary has said, in response to some suggestions and comments from Legislative Council members, that we should be even more aggressive in supplying land. So he has announced that we will now commit ourselves to a land sale programme for the coming three months. In addition to the three residential sites that we are going to sell in April this year, we are selling an extra six residential sites in May and in June. And also another three pieces of hotel and commercial sites.

In totality, in this quarter from April to June 2011, the Government will be initiating the sale of a total of 12 sites. For those residential sites, we now estimate that they will be able to provide no less than 2,650 units. And of this amount, about 70% of the units will be small- and medium-sized flats, to be sold in a form which is tendered with size restrictions.

Reporter: Why is the Government apparently not ...... to resume HOS?

Secretary for Development: I have repeated on many occasions that the Development Bureau is responsible for supplying land into the market to meet housing and various needs. The housing aspirations and other housing-related matters have been dealt with by the Chief Executive in his last Policy Address about introducing the My Home Purchase Plan and also other fiscal measures, anti-speculative measures that have been undertaken and announced by the Financial Secretary.

Reporter: Why is the auction only for the next three months? ...... Why does the Government not go back to the earlier system of the regularly scheduled land auction?

Secretary for Development: I think this is a matter of semantics. Regular land sales in the past took the form of a pretty rigid schedule. So over a period of 10 to 12 months, the Government determined the exact date and exact site to be sold. I have already explained that in our current two-pronged system, it has the advantage of actually enabling ready sites to be put into the market much earlier than the scheduled sites. Because as soon as the site is ready, i.e. the conditions of sale are ready, then we put it on the website, put it on the Application List. In case the site is not yet announced or put up for sale, but if a developer or the market is interested in the site, they could come to trigger the site and then take the site out for auction at an earlier date. But balancing all factors and some of the comments and suggestions from the Legislative Council members, we have today announced that we will take this extra step, in addition to saying that we will sell 18 sites, we will put extra sites which are outside of the designated list of 18 sites into the market through Government-initiated sale. And on top of that, we announced in advance the planned sales for the coming three months so that the market as well as members of the public could be more reassured that we have this very strong determination to supply housing land as well as land for office development into the market.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:26