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Hong Kong Chief Unveils Measures To Improve Housing Market

hongkong sept06 16oct19 lt

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam unveiled measures to make housing affordable to citizens after anti-government protests dragged the economy into a recession.

In her third policy address, Lam focused on housing, land supply, improving people's livelihood and economic development.

Lam invited the Hong Kong Housing Authority to explore the feasibility of redeveloping its factory estates for public housing use, particularly to increase the supply of public rental housing units.

Authorities will take initiative to sell about 42,000 flats under the Tenants Purchase Scheme and increase the number of transitional housing projects substantially to provide a total of 10,000 such units within the next three years.

For a first-time home buyer, the cap on the value of a property eligible for a 90 percent mortgage loan-to-value ratio will be raised to HK$8 million from the existing HK$4 million. This will help the first time home buyers to buy a property with a downpayment of just 10 percent.

Lam proposed legislation to levy "Special Rates" on vacant first hand private residential units.

The economy has already slipped into a technical recession since the third quarter, she said. In the first half of 2019, the economy expanded 0.5 percent, the worst performance since the 2009 recession.

The impact of the economic downturn on the labor market has surfaced gradually, she noted.

Lam was unable to deliver her policy address at the Legislative Council as opposition lawmakers disrupted the session shouting slogans. She later delivered the policy address through video.

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