Hong Kong government reserved for patriots to tackle housing issues, says Lam
By Clare Jim and Jessie Pang
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Solving the housing shortage in Hong Kong and increasing land supply will be key priorities for authorities under Beijing’s new “patriots only” political system, the director said on Tuesday. General Carrie Lam.
Lam’s remarks come after Reuters reported last week that Chinese officials told powerful Hong Kong tycoons in several private meetings this year that they should devote resources and influence to support Beijing’s interests. and help solve the city’s housing shortage.
Hong Kong held its first vote on Sunday since China overhauled the former British colony’s electoral system to ensure that only those loyal to Beijing rule the city.
The changes have dramatically reduced the tycoons’ influence on the 1,500-person committee that selects the Chinese-backed Hong Kong CEO, although groups close to their business interests remain present.
Asked about the Reuters report at her weekly press conference, Lam told reporters she could not confirm or comment on the “rumors.”
“I can only say that the central government cares a lot about social issues,” Lam said.
“After improving the electoral system, government efficiency can increase. Once the efficiency is increased, of course, she will want to solve people’s problems, ”she said, namely the reopening of the borders in the near future and the housing problems in the longer term.
Shares of four main Hong Kong developers, CK Asset, Henderson Land Development, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) and New World Development, fell 9% to 12% on Monday, analysts citing market concerns over potential regulation. hindering their growth. The market was more stable on Tuesday.
In a statement released on Monday evening, the SHKP said it had not come under pressure from the central government in Beijing and had cooperated with the Hong Kong government and fulfilled its “commitments” to the company, including in terms of housing.
“SKHP has never supported the act of market monopoly,” said his statement.
Henderson Land declined to comment. CK Asset and New World Development did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“AVAILABLE TO COOPERATE”
Raymond Cheng, head of Hong Kong research at CGS-CIMB Securities, said investors feared Beijing would ask Hong Kong to impose measures such as price caps or restrictions on the purchase of similar homes. to the recent rules introduced in mainland China.
But “the adoption of these Chinese housing policies in Hong Kong is unlikely,” Cheng said.
Citi analysts said developer stocks were oversold on the back of the report, but “without any near-term action to address political risk concerns … the industry may not experience lasting rebounds.”
The Reuters report made no mention of potential regulatory intervention resulting from several meetings this year between Chinese officials and developers.
Large real estate companies have long wielded inordinate power in Hong Kong, helping choose its leaders, shaping government policies and reaping the benefits of a land auction system that has kept the supply and prices of real estate tight. among the highest in the world.
Beijing partly blamed the “monopoly behavior” of conglomerates for the city’s housing problems, which it said played a significant role in government discontent and mass pro-democracy protests in 2019 .
Lam said the main factor behind the housing shortage was the supply of land and the government could use existing legislation to take back land for public housing.
“I feel that today (the developers) are very willing to cooperate with the policies of the Hong Kong government,” Lam said. “I hope that this kind of public-private partnership to solve social problems, after perfecting the electoral system, will give more results. “
(Written by Marius Zaharia. Editing by Gerry Doyle)