Friday, August 22, 2014   

Stamp duty amendment passed
(07-15 14:55)

Lawmakers have passed an amendment to exempt non-permanent residents from paying double Stamp Duty when they buy public housing units which they're currently occupying.
The amendment, moved by Democrat Wu Chi-wai, was passed after a much heated debate Tuesday morning.
Under the split voting system, the amendment received endorsements both from the functional and geographical constituencies.
The government's refusal to give in earlier prompted League of Social Democrats lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung to move a motion to adjourn the debate -- which he withdrew soon after.
The government insisted that granting exemption would undermine the integrity of the entire measure.
The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung said even if exemption was given, it wouldn't do much help to non-Hong Kong permanent residents as they would still have to pay the Buyers Stamp Duty.
The Federation of Trade Unions was the only major political party that did not back the amendment, worrying it could stimulate speculation.
FTU councillor Alice Mak Mei-kuen accused pro-business legislators of having a "hidden-agenda" in supporting the proposal, saying they wanted to send a message to the market that the government's property cooling measures weren't working. --RTHK   
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