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Friday, July 13, 2018, 00:33
Government may tighten curbs on non-local homebuyers
By He Shusi
Friday, July 13, 2018, 00:33 By He Shusi

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attends a session at the legislative council on July 12, 2018. The government will not rule out imposing further restrictions on non-residents buying property in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told legislators on July 12, 2018. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG - The government will not rule out imposing further restrictions on non-residents buying property in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told legislators on Thursday.

The government will keep monitoring the property market and consider other policies to deal with the city’s housing shortage if current measures are not effective, Lam said

Lam discussed the housing issue in her 11th and final question and answer session in the Legislative Council for the 2017-18 legislative year. LegCo’s summer recess starts on Friday.  

The government will keep monitoring the property market and consider other policies to deal with the city’s housing shortage if current measures are not effective, Lam said.

She pledged that the government will not rule out any effective measures and will carefully monitor the market’s reaction.

However, she said it’s not suitable for the government to elaborate on its property market policies on this occasion. This is in order to avoid uncertainty and speculation creating unnecessary market fluctuations.

Currently buyers who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong must pay a 30 percent stamp duty when purchasing a residential property in the city.

For second-time local buyers, the stamp duty is 15 percent.

Despite increasingly tight measures, the price index of Hong Kong’s private residential property hit a record high for the 19th consecutive month in May, according to the latest government data. 

ALSO READ: HK property market shatters price records for 13th straight mth

Responding to a lawmaker’s request to restrict the number of non-local residents in Hong Kong to cool off the housing market, Lam said the population policy and housing shortage were separate issues, which should not be mixed up.

Lam stressed that Hong Kong needs to expand its labor force to drive economic and social development as the population rapidly ages. As immigrants boost housing demand, Lam said it is the government’s responsibility to boost land supply and introduce related measures.

Discussing options to develop land, Lam reiterated that marine reclamation outside Victoria Harbour is inevitable to tackle the city’s land shortage in the long term. Many cities, such as Singapore, adopt this option to realize sustainable development, Lam told lawmakers.

If the option affects certain industries, such as fisheries, Lam said the government will be proactive in reducing the adverse effects.

Hong Kong has been the world’s least-affordable housing market for eight consecutive years, according to the latest study by Demographia, an urban planning policy consultancy, in its annual report in January.

The study said the median price of a home in Hong Kong is 19.4 times the median annual pre-tax household income for last year, up from 18.1 times in the previous study.

READ MORE: CE: HK resolved to end city's housing woes

heshusi@chinadailyhk.com

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