- Secretary for Development Michael Wong says current rate at HK$1,389.6 per square foot is ‘very much enough’
- Rural affairs body Heung Yee Kuk earlier opposed move, with rural leaders warning they will block public developments in New Territories
There will be no increase in compensation for landlords whose plots are seized for public housing, Hong Kong's development minister has said despite calls for a review.
Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said at a press conference on Thursday that the administration would be prudent in its spending, as he discussed the land resumption initiative announced by the city's leader a day earlier.
Wong added that the current rate for seizing suitable agricultural land for development, at HK$1,389.6 per square foot, was "very much enough".
The rate applies to plots near planned new towns or major infrastructure. Land situated further away would be taken at cheaper rates.
"Bear in mind, under the current scheme, it's resuming land for public housing, not commercial use," he said.
On Wednesday, during her third policy address since taking office, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she had a "breakthrough in thinking" on boosting land supply, declaring that the Lands Resumption Ordinance would be used in a targeted approach to take back private plots for public housing.
The idea was brought up weeks ago by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city's biggest pro-Beijing political party and endorsed by state media, which urged Lam to get tough with developers who left land idle for private gain.
Earlier, the Heung Yee Kuk, the powerful rural affairs body that represent interests of New Territories villagers, openly rejected the land resumption proposal. It said the current compensation rates were too low. Some rural leaders even warned they would use all means to block public developments in the New Territories.
Alfred Lam Kwok-cheong, a lawyer and ex officio member of the kuk, said on Thursday the compensation rates should definitely be raised to win over villagers.
"Our interests should not be taken away to subsidise other people," Lam said. "We haven't studied how much the rates should be adjusted … but any increase would be a good thing."
Derrick Yip Siu-ming, vice-chairman of the Real Property Federation, which has ties to rural landlords, said a per-square-foot price of anything around HK$2,000 would be welcomed by landowners, as it was the maximum price paid by private developers in their acquisitions in the past few years.
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