Date
24 November 2017
Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the government will not offer discounts on land premiums to developers who participate in the starter homes scheme. Photo: Information Services Department/Xinhua
Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the government will not offer discounts on land premiums to developers who participate in the starter homes scheme. Photo: Information Services Department/Xinhua

Starter homes scheme to benefit the public, not developers: Lam

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said developers who join the starter homes scheme proposed by the government will not be allowed to benefit from it, dismissing concern that it will become another example of collusion between businessmen and government officials, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

In her first policy address on Wednesday, Lam said the scheme aims to boost home ownership by providing affordable flats for families that earn no more than HK$68,000 a month.

But some people said the government’s good intentions may end up helping developers profit as happened in the past.

In a TV interview on Sunday, Lam promised the government will not offer discounts on land premiums to developers who participate in the scheme, which is a joint undertaking between the private and public sectors.

According to Lam, most of the flats will all be built in the New Territories and the sites will have lower plot ratios.

The ratios can be increased after approval by the Town Planning Board so as to be consistent with the policy direction of higher density housing, Lam said.

She said the government will study the feasibility of developing infrastructure to meet the regulatory requirements on plot ratios.

Lam said the government will work with more than one developer to address social concerns. She said all interested developers can apply to participate while the government will focus on land supply.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan told a radio program on Sunday that developing infrastructure for the scheme is for the public benefit only.

A mechanism will be launched next year to prevent bid-rigging by developers, Chan said.

He also called on the public to support government efforts to reclaim land from the sea to get around natural restrictions. He said that although the work is challenging, the government will do its best.

Land reclamation has been slowing, with only 690 hectares of land artificially created between 2000 and 2015, compared with 3,000 in the previous 15 years, according to official data.

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