Housing Authority records HK$10bn surplus

The Housing Authority says it has recorded a surplus of HK$10 billion this year and it expects more of the same over the next few years, with the surplus predicted to hit HK$16 billion in 2025-2026.

Taking into account its budget and forecasts published on Thursday, the authority estimated that it will have enough funds to build 100,000 public flats over the next five years.

It said although its rental housing operations will fall deeper into the red, surpluses generated from its commercial properties and home ownership flats should offset the deficit.

The public housing account for this financial year saw a HK$400 million deficit, after the authority waived rents for public flat tenants for a month.

The chairman of the organisation’s finance committee, Chan Ka-lok, said the account may be in the black next year if no further rental concessions are offered.

“The change of the budget from this year to the next year is really a reflection of the rental concession that we offered in [this] year … next year we are based on the assumption that there is no such rental concession,” he said.

“But… of course the Housing Authority will certainly take into account the [economic] situation to see whether there is any further concession to be offered.”

Chan said their forecasts do not take into consideration the financial implications of the government’s goal to build 330,000 public flats by 2032.

He said the authority would see a substantially higher construction expenditure from around 2027, but it would be hard to make estimates now.

Meanwhile, the authority has tightened resale restrictions on subsidised flats to curb speculation.

Flat owners will only be able to sell their units in the secondary market five years after first being assigned their homes, up from the current two years, and the restrictions for resale in the open market will go up from 10 to 15 years.

“When we decided on the restrictions we also bore in mind if we introduced too stringent restrictions, that might reduce the supply in the market substantially, and that would in fact create some impact on the price of the remaining units still available in the market. That’s why we had to do some balancing exercise,” said Cleresa Wong, who chairs the authority’s subsidised housing committee.

She also said 9,000 Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats in seven new developments will be made available this year.
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Last updated: 2022-01-06 HKT 19:44