Date
22 November 2017
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologized for saying 800,000 public rental flats would be sufficient to meet the needs of grassroots families. Photo: CNSA
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologized for saying 800,000 public rental flats would be sufficient to meet the needs of grassroots families. Photo: CNSA

Lam apologizes for public rental housing remark

There is no cap on the number of public rental flats in the government’s long-term housing strategy, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.

She apologized for saying 800,000 public rental flats would be sufficient to meet the needs of grassroots families.

Lam made the clarification after she said her remark caused unnecessary anxiety among the public, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The remark, which was part of a newspaper interview, sparked concern that the figure is a cap set by the government.

“It is definitely not a ceiling on what the government is willing to produce for the people of Hong Kong,” Lam said.

As to how she came up with the figure, she explained it is the existing 756,000 public rental flats plus another 44,000 already in the pipeline.

Lam said the government will build more, not less, public rental flats than its long-term strategy suggests.

She said 800,000 public rental flats are not sufficient based on the number of people waiting in line to rent and the waiting time. She said the government aims to use the Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme to ease the situation.

Every unit sold under the scheme will produce a vacant public rental housing unit for allocation to other families on the waiting list, she said.

Asked how many units will be made available under the scheme, Lam said it will be left to the Housing Authority to decide. There is no set target and the scheme will not reduce the amount of public rental housing units which can be allocated to families in need.

Lawmaker James To Kun-sun from the Democratic Party said that although Lam heeded public concerns, she did not retract the 800,000 figure which means it could still be a cap.

Another lawmaker, Wilson Or Chong-shing from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, urged the government to fulfill its promise to allocate public rental flats to applicants on the waiting list within three years.

Meanwhile, Lam told a luncheon on Tuesday that the government will not offer discounts on land premiums to developers who participate in the proposed starter homes scheme.

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TL/JC/RA

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