Keep it clean on land - Chan

Local | Phoenix Un Apr 16, 2018
Executive Council convener Bernard Charnwut Chan has endorsed the new public-private partnership for developing farmland, but says it is important to make the public feel there is no collusion.

A public consultation by the Task Force on Land Supply for land resource options will start next Thursday.

Chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said one option is to make the government invest in infrastructure around farmland owned by developers.

The option proposes that the government should first invest in transport and drainage, in exchange for the developers to allocate some flats for public housing.

Endorsing the option, Chan said it would be beneficial for society and the developers. The option can be implemented in the shortest period of time.

"It's the fastest option as it only demands some reconstruction and building certain infrastructure, and of course land premium," Chan said. "In contrast, some other options, even if implemented, would need decades to provide land for housing."

Wong also proposed that the new partnership be handled by a body independent of the government to avoid collusion claims.

Chan said it is important the government obtains a reasonable ratio of public housing, so that Hongkongers feel that the option is fair.

"There should be a package to allow developers to have profits on one side, and on the other side, society should also get some reward, such as a reasonable ratio of public housing," Chan said.

Wong said the proposal would demand developers provide public housing flats with equal value to government investment in infrastructure.

However, legislator Andrew Wan Siu-kin was skeptical that a public-private partnership would be devoid of collusion.

"Developers are only willing to develop if they foresee profits," he said.

Wan also said the government should retake the idle farmland from developers in accordance with the Land Resumption Ordinance.

The four largest developers - CK Asset, Henderson Land, Sun Hung Kai Properties and New World Development - already own more than 1,000 hectares of farmland.

A total of 18 options will be put to the public during the "great debate," but only three of them are short-term options.

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September 2018