Date
20 July 2017
CY Leung (left, inset) says the government won't relax its property market curbs, while his finance chief John Tsang has signaled a more flexible approach. Photos: tvb.com, Reuters
CY Leung (left, inset) says the government won't relax its property market curbs, while his finance chief John Tsang has signaled a more flexible approach. Photos: tvb.com, Reuters

Leung vows to keep property curbs as Tsang signals some doubts

The government will not scrap property cooling measures in the near term, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday, contrary to what Financial Secretary John Tsang appeared to suggest just a few days ago.

Leung vowed to continue the property curbs, saying the policies are needed in light of the current problems in the market even though there has been a slowdown in secondary housing transactions recently, Apple Daily reported.

The government will press on with efforts to dampen speculative purchases by overseas individuals and investors to keep home prices under control, he said.

Hong Kong had in the past few years put in place new rules such as Special Stamp Duty, Buyer Stamp Duty and Double Stamp Duty to deter speculative property buyers.

The measures came amid growing complaints from locals that housing was becoming ever more unaffordable despite a rise in supply of new units.

Leung’s comments Tuesday marked a different tone from that signaled by his finance chief Tsang.

In an interview Sunday after returning from a European trip, Tsang indicated that property curbs could be eased given the present macroeconomic situation.

Some policy adjustments may be made if the government finds it necessary to respond to the expected interest rate hike in the US, Tsang said.

Asked to clarify the government’s position, a spokesman for Tsang said there is no contradiction in the comments made by Leung and Tsang.

However, some observers, such as political commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung, do not accept the explanation.

Choy said it is obvious that the views of Leung and Tsang on housing policies are different, and that the contradictory comments may have resulted from poor internal communication.

He also said that Leung’s comments suggest that he felt compelled to reaffirm the government’s stance, as he is worried that Tsang’s remarks could affect the chief executive’s prospects of securing a second term in office.

Lee Wing-tat, chairman of private think tank Landwatch, said Tsang’s view was more flexible and more appropriate in terms of policy considerations as the property market is more likely head south.

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TL/AC/RC

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