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Long-term housing plan needed: lawmaker

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“There are too many mistakes in Macau’s housing policy,” lawmaker Ho Ion Sang said earlier this week. He slammed the government for lacking a long-term plan for public housing and getting the private property market under control.
Authorities are still aiming to build 19,000 public housing units by the end of 2012, a promise originally made by former Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah.
But the lawmaker stated during a talk held at the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) that the public has no any idea about what the Administration’s mid or long-term public housing policy actually is.
Last August Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On told lawmakers 6,000 more housing units would be built after 2012, 3,500 of which are in the planning stages and land has been reserved for another 2,500.
“A further 6,000 public units that the government promised would be built, but there is still no timetable,” Ho complained.
Chui Sai On also said in the future social housing would consist of a bigger portion of the city’s public housing, whilst affordable housing will become secondary. But reality is contradicting that statement, Ho Ion Sang said.
“At this moment there are more than 20,000 affordable units while social units number only a few thousand. It is obvious that affordable housing is the main trend,” he explained.
Ho Ion Sang urged the government to “solve the housing problems of the ‘sandwich class’” – those people who are above the income caps for affordable housing but, at the same time, cannot afford to buy a house in the private market.
The lawmaker stressed the importance of legislation regarding land usage and housing in Macau. He said the housing problems are not only a property market problem. “It is also a social and political problem”.
According to a survey conducted by the Macau Polling Research Association the housing policy scored the lowest satisfaction level in the last year. “Solving the housing problem must take into account both public and private markets,” Ho further stated.
The lawmaker deemed that without a clear housing policy, residents would be pushed to the private market, adding to speculation. “The property prices are far above people’s purchasing power,” he added.
Ho said the government should follow the example of the other territories and implement restrictions on price per usable area rice and encourage the construction of small-size units to fit resident purchasing power.

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