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Cash piles up for housing body as more sales set

Local | Amy Nip Jan 12, 2018
The Housing Authority expects a HK$9.47 billion surplus in the next financial year, with more subsidized flats put up for sale.

That will mark a HK$2.07 billion increase over the level in the 2017/18 financial year, the authority said yesterday following its finance committee's scrutiny of its budget forecasts.

Burgeoning income means the authority will have sufficient financial resources in the coming five-year period, and will not need new cash injection from the Housing Reserve.

"The Housing Authority is projected to have sufficient financial resources to meet its recurrent expenditure and implement its current public housing construction and maintenance programs in the five-year period," finance committee chairman Chan Ka-lok said.

Yesterday's announcement covered the authority's revised budget for 2017/18, the proposed budget for 2018/19, and forecasts for the three financial years from 2019 to 2022.

In the revised budget for the current financial year, the authority estimated a deficit of HK$40 million for rental housing - HK$350 million less than an earlier estimate in the approved budget.

The improvement stems from lesser-than-expected spending on salary of civil servants, maintenance and repairs in housing estates.

But the rental housing deficit will increase in the coming years, rising from HK$1.09 billion in the next financial year to HK$3.24 billion in 2021/22.

The authority is raking in more than what it expected in subsidized home ownership schemes as the surplus will reach HK$4.26 billion this financial year, against the earlier forecast of HK$3.24 billion.

Revenue from some home ownership flats sold during the 2016/17 financial year was included in this financial year's budget, the authority explained.

Prospects for the next financial year are better, with a surplus of HK$7.86 billion as more subsidized flats are to be offered for sale.

Based on the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report 2017 announced by the government last month, the public housing supply target for the 10-year period from 2018/19 to 2027/28 will be 280,000 units according to the latest estimate. The figure includes 200,000 public rental housing units and 80,000 subsidized sale flats.

With Home Ownership Scheme revenue coming on stream, the authority's cash and investment balance is tipped to fall from about HK$49 billion at the start of April 2017 to about HK$36 billion by the end of March 2022.

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October 2018