In just a few days after assuming office, Lam tabled a 5 billion Hong Kong dollar education funding plan, encouraged senior officials to frequently visit local communities and took her first overseas trip as city’s new leader to Singapore and Thailand.
But among her top priorities, Lam said she is aiming to keep a campaign promise by addressing the city’s housing issues.
“Housing is one of my big, top priorities in this term of government,” she said.
Known for its sky-high housing prices, Hong Kong’s home purchase affordability ratio stood at 63 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, which compares to the long-term average of 46 percent from 1996 to 2015, according to the government.
“I think it’s not just a matter of building more houses, more flats. We need to have the right policies,” she said. “I want people to be able to own their flats.”
Lam pointed to Hong Kong’s slowly progressing home ownership rate, which jumped only 4 percent in two decades — from 46 percent to 50 percent. That’s far from reaching the overdue 10-year target of 70 percent set by the first chief executive Tung Chee-Hwa in 1997.
She is also targeting the young local professionals and young families struggling to afford a reasonable place. Lam said she planned to create a new form of subsidized housing called “starter homes” for first-time home buyers with a more generous income and asset threshold than the current system. Meanwhile, not to leave out tenants, she also addressed plans to make more flats available for leasing in the “very tight” rental market — with a pending timetable.
While housing will remain a focus, there are many other issues for the new government to address. With one month down, and 59 more to go, Lam has a long to-do list for her coming 5 years in office.
Catch “The CNBC Conversation” with Carrie Lam: Showtimes include 6:30 p.m. HK/SIN and 7:30 p.m. CET on Saturday, August 5; 7:30 p.m. HK/SIN and 6:30 p.m. CET on Sunday, August 6.