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Continue our relentless efforts to increase housing supply

Two pieces of news are noteworthy today. The first is about the steady increase in private housing supply and the second is about a rise in interest rates.

According to figures provided by the Buildings Department, the accumulated number of private flats under construction in the first 10 months of this year amounted to 17 900 units, the highest in 16 years. The accumulated number of private flats completed in the same period reached 11 400 units. This shows the Government's effective efforts in increasing housing supply, the ultimate solution to the problem of high property prices and heavy rents. I am grateful to the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, and other government colleagues for their hard work over the past four years.

The second news is about the United States Federal Reserve's announcement this morning of its decision to raise the interest rates for the second time in a decade. If local property prices drop because of a rise in interest rates, it does not mean that the housing problem is solved. Without increasing housing supply, the problem of undersupply of flats would still exist even if property prices drop as a result of a rise in interest rates, and the living conditions of the Hong Kong people would not be improved. Therefore, I will not reduce land supply just because of the rise in interest rates, nor will I reduce the "spiciness" of the measures to suppress speculative, investment and external demands for local properties.

December 15, 2016