Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said short-term tenancies of public land have not been transparent enough and he intends to improve the situation as soon as possible, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In a media gathering on Wednesday, Wong said the government will begin to upload information, including the boundaries, locations and rents per square foot of about 800 such plots by the end of the year.
The information will be updated monthly.
The government wants the public to be able to lease the plots with easier access to related information, Wong said.
According to Wong, there are about 5,000 short-term land tenancies involving 2,400 hectares, two-thirds of which, or about 1,600 hectares, has been used as a construction site of the planned third airport runway.
Arrangements for short-term tenancies, which have existed for a long time, are a way to make efficient use of public land in some remote areas, he said.
However, quite a number of the designated plots that cover large areas have in fact been long occupied and there is no way for the general public to rent them.
In a study unveiled on Tuesday, land concern group Liber Research Community said 31 short-term tenancies had been awarded without a tender before the plots were turned into 23 private swimming pools and eight private tennis courts next to luxury homes.
The lease prices of the plots are ridiculously low and some even cover an area that is larger than the homes, the group said.
It criticized the government for making private deals with rich people, depriving other citizens of short-term tenancies.
On Wednesday, the Lands Department said all approvals for short-term tenancies and rentals have followed an established mechanism that favors no individual applicant.
Former lawmaker Lee Wing-tat, who chairs the think tank Land Watch, slammed the short-term lease system, saying the government has never unveiled information on lessees and lacked a clear policy. This makes the system vulnerable to abuse and the public also failed to monitor the system, he said.
Meanwhile, Wong told the media that the number cases involving illegal occupation of public land has fallen to about 2,000 from more than 7,000 at its peak, Apple Daily reported.
He expects to clear them all in the next two to three years.
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