Some groups are paying the government extremely low rents for large land parcels to provide facilities for recreational purposes.
This comes as Hong Kong is grappling with insufficient land supply to meet demand for public housing, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
According to documents submitted by the Home Affairs Bureau to the Legislative Council on Wednesday, such rents are as low as 3 Hong Kong cents per square foot.
The government has leased certain sites at nominal or no premium to private sports clubs to develop sports and recreational facilities for use by their members. Such leases are commonly known as private recreational leases.
There have been complaints that some lessees used club facilities for profit in breach of the conditions of the lease, and that the land should have been used for residential housing projects.
In response, the Home Affairs Bureau set up an inter-departmental working group in 2014 to review the policy on the leases.
The bureau had expected to finish the review by the end of the year but on Wednesday, it told Legco that the process involved complex issues and many bureaus and departments.
The bureau provided Legco data on 67 private recreational leases it has reviewed, covering a combined area of 408 hectares.
Of them, 31 were signed by private sports clubs, accounting for nearly half of the total, with another 15 signed by welfare non-governmental organizations and 14 by uniformed groups.
The bureau found that HK Model Engineering Club has been paying only HK$11,000 for a land of 3.49 hectares in Tai Tong in Yuen Long for its 240 members, or 3 Hong Kong cents per square foot.
As for the controversial 170-hectare land leased to the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling, the rent is only 13 Hong Kong cents per square foot.
Meanwhile, some of the leases cover long time spans, such the one by the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association for a 25,000 sq. ft. site at the intersection of Gascoigne Road and Wylie Road, which will not expire until December 2056.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin suggested the government take back the Fanling land, which he said can accommodate as many as 350,000 people.
He said the government could also consider shortening the leases.
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