Chief Executive Carrie Lam says her administration is postponing a Legco debate on relaxing stamp duty for some homebuyers, to prevent any delays to discussions on a government motion on controversial immigration arrangements at the future West Kowloon Station.
Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said she is keen for the non-binding motion to be put to lawmakers on October 25.
To make sure that can happen, Lam said she would like Legco to adjourn the committee stage debate and third reading on the Stamp Duty Amendment Bill scheduled to be discussed from Wednesday this week.
The bill would give local homeowners more time to sell their flats after buying a new one without having to pay a high 15 percent tax.
But Lam said the bill would only be tabled again after lawmakers have finished discussing the motion regarding the so-called "co-location" arrangement, which would see mainland officers enforcing mainland laws at the West Kowloon terminus for the future high-speed rail line.
"This is to take into account the very tight time-frame that the co-location arrangements are being subject to. Because after securing this support from the Legislative Council, we still have to go through what we called a three-step process to ensure the arrangements we are putting in place have very strong legal backing," Lam said.
"That three-step process necessitates a final step of local legislation, which by itself will take time, so we cannot delay or defer this Legco debate on co-location arrangement."
Members of the pro-democracy camp expressed outrage over Lam's move, saying she's damaged their trust by failing to mention it during their lunch meeting this week.
Several lawmakers said there is simply no rush to debate the rail station motion, and they'll only be allowed to speak for up to 15 minutes each on it anyway. They also pointed out that the plans won't reach Beijing's top legislature until December.
But DAB chairwoman Starry Lee said she could understand the government's thinking. She said the bill's adjournment would have no real effect when it comes to stamp duty that's already been collected.