Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said on Monday that his bureau will buy dozens of properties from private owners over the next three years to set up more welfare facilities for the elderly and children.
Law also said the administration will not consult district councils to minimize the impact on the property market, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In his 2019-20 budget speech last Wednesday, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po proposed the allocation of HK$20 billion to purchase 60 private properties to establish over 130 welfare facilities.
Law told a radio program on Monday that the Labour and Welfare Bureau cannot buy all of the 60 properties in one go because doing so would affect prices in the property market.
He also said the bureau cannot consult any district council before striking a deal in the area it covers because such a move would most likely prompt property owners to raise their prices.
The government is expected to submit its application for funding to the Legislative Council’s welfare services and finance committees before the legislature takes its summer break in July, Law said.
He said no concrete information of a selected property will be provided in the process because once such information is revealed, someone is likely to beat the bureau to acquire it or cause its price to rise, making the whole plan unachievable in three years.
Law, however, revealed that the new welfare facilities will be mainly those that are less controversial, such as neighborhood elderly centers and child care centers.
Homes for the aged are not on the list at present since they will involve larger areas as well as land leases and deeds of mutual covenant.
But the administration may include homes for the aged if there are suitable locations and reasonable prices for those, he added.
If the HK$20 billion is not used up after purchases of 60 properties, the remaining amount will be used to buy properties for needs other than welfare services, Law said.
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