HK should relook immigration policy to tackle housing issue: JLL

October 10, 2018 16:27
The One-Way Permit Scheme for mainland immigrants is adding to the pressure on Hong Kong’s public housing market, says JLL. Photo: RTHK

Hong Kong should revisit its immigration and population planning policies as part of efforts to tackle the city's housing problem, according to a top official at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the global real estate services firm. 

"Under the existing One-way Permit scheme, new arrivals in Hong Kong may reach nearly 60,000 per year, meaning that the city's population may increase by 600,000 in ten years,” said Joseph Tsang, managing director of JLL Hong Kong, referring to the scheme that enables eligible mainland residents to come and settle in Hong Kong. 

"This influx will add pressure to the public housing market.”

In a commentary issued to the media after Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam outlined some initiatives to boost land supply and alleviate the housing woes, Tsang suggested that the government should deal with the problem through various means. 

"There is no one remedy for solving the land shortage problem in Hong Kong,” the JLL executive said.

On Wednesday, Lam -- in her annual policy speech -- unveiled the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision”, under which about 1,700 hectares will be developed on reclaimed land in the seas surrounding Lantau, a move that is expected to provide 260,000 to 400,000 new residential units and accommodate up to 1.1 million people.

Talking about the project, Tsang said new housing supply from the plan may take 20 years to materialize.

The government is on the right track in tackling the issue, but more efforts are needed, including a re-examining of the immigration and population planning policies, he said. 

"The real problem in the shortage of housing doesn't lie in the private housing market, but in the public market,” said Tsang.

In response to calls for building more public flats for ordinary families, the government has vowed to raise the ratio of public to private housing in its newly developed land to 70:30, up from the current 60:40 ratio.

"Housing supply - whether it is inadequate or in surplus - largely depends on market sentiment,” Tsang said, adding that increasing the public-private housing ratio will not lead to a spike in prices in the private housing market.

In other comments, Tsang said demand for private housing has softened recently, and sales of some new residential projects have slowed, amid concerns over rising interest rates and worries over the China-US trade war.

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