The Task Force on Land Supply has already submitted its final report to the government, but the controversies surrounding the issue continue unabated.
In particular, regulating the number of mainland immigrants as a means to ease soaring demand for housing has become a key concern.
During its five-month public consultation, the task force received over 4,000 submissions of opinions from the public asserting that our population policy is a major contributing factor to the current land shortage.
They maintained that control of immigrants is unavoidable in resolving land supply issues.
During our own roadside public consultation exercise, many citizens insisted that unless the government reduces the current daily quota of 150 one-way permits for mainland immigrants, there is absolutely no way our housing woes can be resolved no matter how much additional land is created.
The task force has argued that the population policy didn’t fall within its terms of reference. However, its work and studies were largely carried out according to the framework and data laid down in the government documents “Hong Kong 2030+”, in which most of the parameters in determining the city’s demand for land are based on our projected social and population growth.
The task force should have assessed the impact of different population policies on our demand for land.
Yet we find it highly disappointing that the task force has avoided this crucial issue from the first day of the public consultation and decided to only adopt population projections.
Hong Kong’s policy of allowing the population to grow unchecked in the past has resulted in an extra population of more than one million migrants, who came to settle in our city from the mainland on one-way permits.
This huge army of mainland immigrants, whose numbers continue to grow on a daily basis, has overrun our city and far exceeded the capacity of our land and communities.
If things are allowed to go on the way they are now, the land shortage will only continue to deteriorate no matter how much more land is created or reclaimed in the coming days.
That said, I believe the most urgent task for our government is to control inbound population migration from the mainland. Otherwise, there will be no end in sight for our housing woes.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 22
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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