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FS outlines fiscal consolidation plan

In the 2024-25 Budget announced today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan proposed a number of measures to increase revenue and outlined a fiscal consolidation programme which aims to restore fiscal balance in a few years’ time.   Mr Chan said even though the Government strived to reduce expenditure as the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided, the total expenditure for 2023-24 reached $727.9 billion, representing an increase of 36.9% compared with 2018-19, of which operating expenditure rose substantially by 40.2% whereas operating revenue increased only 13.1%.   On capital works, owing to the fact that the Government has been pressing ahead with land and housing supply projects, along with other infrastructure works for improving the environment and people’s livelihood, the average annual expenditure has increased from about $76 billion over the past five years to about $85 billion in 2023-24.   Fiscal reserves have dropped to the current level of $733.2 billion.   Fiscal consoli

Land redevelopment bill published

The Government today introduced an amendment bill into the Legislative Council for updating and streamlining the compulsory sale regime by proposing to reduce the compulsory sale application thresholds for private buildings aged 50 or above.

 

It noted that the proposed amendment aims to expedite the consolidation of property interests to facilitate the redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings and improve people's livelihood.

 

For private buildings in designated areas, if their age falls within the range of 50 to 59, the thresholds will be reduced from 80% to 70%. If their age is 60 or above, the thresholds will be reduced to 65%.

 

The designated areas cover Cheung Sha Wan, Sham Shui Po, Ma Tau Kok, Kowloon City, To Kwa Wan, Mong Kok, Sai Ying Pun, Sheung Wan, Tsuen Wan, Wan Chai and Yau Ma Tei.

 

For private buildings in non-designated areas, if their age falls within the range of 60 to 69, the thresholds will be reduced from 80% to 70%.

 

For buildings aged 70 or above, regardless of their location, the thresholds will be 65%.

 

Moreover, even with no common staircases connecting the buildings thereon, the bill proposes to allow an applicant to amalgamate two or more adjoining lots and take the average of the ownership in those lots for the purpose of facilitating joint redevelopment of adjoining lots.

 

The bill also proposes streamlining the legal process of the compulsory sale regime. If the building erected on a lot is aged 50 or above and all minority owners do not object to redevelopment, an applicant will be dispensed with the requirement to submit expert reports to the Lands Tribunal to justify the need for redevelopment, thereby shortening the processing time of the application.

 

On enhancing support for affected minority owners, the bill proposes to allow minority owners who are owner-occupiers to stay in their former properties for a period of not more than six months after the compulsory sale, to allow more time for them to arrange relocation.

 

The Government noted that the legislative proposals have duly considered the views of the public and relevant stakeholders, and have struck an appropriate balance between expediting the redevelopment of old buildings and protecting the rights of minority owners.

 

The bill will be gazetted on December 22 and introduced into LegCo for the first reading on January 10, 2024.


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