Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday said the government could study steps to curb non-locals from buying residential property, as she rejected calls to limit the number of mainlanders settling in the city.
The CE said the government will review the policy on selling private flats to non-locals when necessary, adding that officials will consider other alternatives if current property cooling measures are not working. She also pointed out that the city's land policy is completely separate from population policy.
Lam was responding to a query from Neo Democrats Gary Fan at the last Legco’s question and answer session of this legislative year.
Fan asked why the government continues to allow more than 50,000 mainlanders to move to Hong Kong each year when the city is already facing an acute shortage of land.
He said Hongkongers would only be able to afford to buy their own flats if they "stop eating and drinking for 19 years".
But the Chief Executive said Hong Kong needs more labour for the economy to develop, and people should welcome mainlanders who move to the SAR.
"And if the end, if we need more schools, medical services and housing, then we should develop land. And that’s why we are developing land," she said.
Lam also dismissed calls to scrap the small house policy, which allows male indigenous villagers in the New Territories to build a small house of up to three storeys high.
She said a judicial review on the policy's constitutionality is underway, and this is not the right time for the government to make any changes.
But Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam disagreed. He said the policy was initially established by the colonial government over 40 years ago as a short to medium-term temporary measure, and its abolishment is long overdue.