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How can the government be willing to "basking in the sun" for applications for short-term leases of government land for five years

2021-04-14T22:58:48.305Z

According to a document from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the total area of ​​unleased government land in Hong Kong in 2020 will reach 322 hectares. In recent years, the government has improved information dissemination and established a plan to encourage private applications for short-term lease of such land.



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Written by: Commentary Editing Room

2021-04-15 06:45

Last update date: 2021-04-15 06:45

According to a document from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the total area of ​​unleased government land in Hong Kong in 2020 will reach 322 hectares.

In recent years, the government has improved information dissemination and established a plan to encourage private applications for short-term lease of such land. If the land can be used wisely, it will certainly benefit society.

However, the results were not satisfactory, and officials must absorb suggestions to stop wasting precious land resources.

The Development Bureau responded to the Legislative Council’s question on the expenditure review of this year’s budget, stating that the 322 hectares of land are scattered across 1,283 parcels of land in Hong Kong.

The land involved is as large as 19 Victoria Parks. Although part of the land is undulating, close to slopes or difficult to connect to water and electricity, there are still a lot of flat land that should have certain development potential.

In the past, the government tried to report the shortage of land while lazily managing the vacant land. It was only in recent years that it was willing to improve the administrative arrangements for renting official land. For example, the Lands Department has published an online "Geographic Information Map" in 2018 that can be used for community, group or non-profit purposes The Development Bureau has also tailor-made a related subsidy plan to support the basic land restoration works of approved short-term lease land and payment of related consultant fees.

There are currently 1,283 unleased government land managed by the Lands Department in Hong Kong.

(Profile picture)

Approval takes time and hinders the development of civil society

The above measures have indeed encouraged non-governmental organizations and organizations to apply for the use of short-term leased land to a certain extent. From April to the end of 2020, the Lands Department received 57 applications, which is three more than the entire 2019-20 period.

However, the progress and results of the relevant applications are disappointing, because from April 2018 to the end of 2020, the Lands Department received 141 applications from NGOs, but only 26 were approved, including those before this period There are still 101 cases to be processed by the Department by the end of 2020.

It can be seen that a large number of applications for short-term leases require a long period of time for approval by the department.

Taking a closer look at the 26 successful cases in the past three years, 12 cases took more than 20 months, and the longest application for the Kwun Tong Sports Promotion Association took more than five years.

Similar criticisms were also based on the audit report of the Audit Office last year. The Lands Department responded at that time that relevant policy bureaus or departments should consider whether they will provide policy support and clarify with the applicants the intended use of the short-term lease. The process sometimes needs to be more complicated. Long time.

Even if communication and coordination between departments are required, it takes time and a half to five years to be unreasonable.

Too much case processing can easily disrupt the position of applicants. After all, these applicant groups cannot provide services immediately after receiving the approval notice. They also need a year and a half to level the land, and then spend a similar amount of time to build the superstructure. The entire period may be For several years, the beneficiaries may miss the best time to receive services.

In addition, for smaller institutions, seeing other applications take a long time, they will naturally feel that there are many uncertain factors, or they may decide to withdraw their applications halfway, or even give up renting other places to provide services. The consequences are The opportunities for these institutions to reach the audience and expand the scale of operations are restricted.

Chen Jiawen (pictured right) said that many non-governmental organizations are willing to spend their time applying for the use of idle land, describing everyone as "good intentions."

(Photo by Yu Junliang)

Setting an approval time target is the basis for governance

Although the Lands Department promises to complete the review by the end of 2020, including considering setting targets for the processing time of short-term lease applications, and requesting that overtime cases be reported to the directorate for review, the 2021-2022 Budget is under the head of the Lands Department This item is still not listed.

In fact, the difficulty of private organizations in renting government short-term leases is more than waiting for the approval results. Other bureaucratic thinking and lack of complete land information are also many, such as the inability to allow organizations to apply for the lease of adjacent lots to simplify The application procedures, or the list of official land does not include some lots that people think have the opportunity to make good use of but are not in the list of vacant land, etc.

If these problems can be improved, the possibility of civil organizations making good use of official land will be greatly increased.

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Source: hk1

All news articles on 2021-04-14

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