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'Low-rent housing key to help poor'

[ 2009-03-05 13:53]     字号 [] [] []  
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The key to solving the urgent problem of accommodating a large number of low-income urban residents is to build low-rent houses, a real estate giant told policymakers yesterday.

"Low-rent housing has been successful in Hong Kong for years. I don't see why it cannot work here," said Vincent Lo, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Shui On Group, during the second session of the China People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing.

Known as the brain behind the birth of Shanghai's Xintiandi, a 20,000-sq-m development project that has transformed the backwaters of the metropolis into a flashy address, Lo said if the country is serious about helping its poor, "low-rent housing is the only answer."

"Real estate developers in Hong Kong are attuned to high-profile projects, and won't have much of a role to play in the construction of low-rent housing in the mainland. But they could at least offer valuable suggestions regarding the design of the structures," Lo said.

Low-rent houses are "very different" from regular residences, he said. "Their design is far more compact and space-efficient. And Hong Kong is an exper t at building such houses."

The real estate tycoon, who is a deputy to the CPPCC, made the remarks when asked if the property prices in major Chinese cities were still "unreasonably high."

The mainland housing market entered dormancy at the beginning of the current economic crisis, but a dramatic slash of price - widely expected - hasn't materialized yet.

"Let's not confuse the two issues of providing affordable housing to low-income residents, and stimulating the economy," Lo said.

"Every country has about 20 percent of its population unable to buy property. No matter how much we lower the price, they still won't be able to afford it. It is the government's responsibility to provide them with accommodation," he said.

"Low-rent housing will ensure that a resident, whose income exceeds a certain limit, must vacate the house to make way for those in need."

He assured that a significant dip in property prices was "highly unlikely."

The past few months have seen various local governments taking a series of measures to boost the ailing housing market.

In January, the Beijing Municipal Government overturned an order, which restricted property purchases in the city by foreigners. It also relaxed a restriction, in force since 2007, on banks lending money to homebuyers.

"Under the current economic situation, foreigners have become extremely cautious about buying properties in an unfamiliar market, even if given the opportunity," Lo said. "The government should let the market tend to itself."

Lo's fellow CPPCC deputy Tong Shijun, a senior economist from Hainan, said: "Property prices in China are determined by a multitude of factors, including land costs, tender terms and taxes. It is unfair to ask a developer to cut prices if he cannot find a way to cut costs."

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

'Low-rent housing key to help poor'

About the broadcaster:

'Low-rent housing key to help poor'

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.