Net access pledged on details of land leases

Local | Sum Lok-kei and Sophie Hui 14 Sep 2017

The government yesterday promised to increase the transparency of short-term tenancies by uploading details onto a website before the end of the year.

But Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said he disagreed with the suggestion that tenders be called for every plot as this would be too complicated.

On Tuesday, concern group Liber Research Community slammed the government for offering short-term tenancies to rich people to build swimming pools and luxury facilities next to their homes at ridiculously low prices and amid a severe shortage of land.

Wong said there are currently about 5,000 short-term land leases involving 2,400 hectares.

However, 1,600 hectares was being used as a construction site of the Hong Kong International Airport's third runway.

While information on such leases is already available to the public, concerned citizens will have to consult various district lands offices to obtain it, which Wong agreed was a cumbersome process.

"The information is out there - but you'd have to search through the individual lot index plan," he said.

To facilitate the public in monitoring the use of land resources, Wong said the department will upload more information online within this year, including the location, plot and rent per square foot.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said such tenancies should not pass automatically to the new owner. "Perpetually renewing short-term leases is one of the reasons why people, particularly in villages in the New Territories, tend to occupy government land because it costs them nothing, and they know that the government will automatically renew the leases when the time is up," he said.

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