Shih Wing-ching calls for complete repeal of property cooling measures to revive Hong Kong’s market

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Shih Wing-ching

21st February 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s property tycoon Shih Wing-ching has advocated for a total withdrawal of the government’s stringent property cooling measures in the real estate market, warning that partial repeals are insufficient to correct the city’s faltering housing sector and broader economic malaise.

Addressing the issue on a recent radio broadcast, the Centaline Property chairman pointed out that the housing market’s trading volume is treading at a 30-year nadir, persisting for the past couple of years, while property prices are on a continual decline. Shih emphasised the chilling effect these measures have had on potential buyers who, despite having the means, are reluctant to invest in the property market. This hesitancy, he argues, could have long-term repercussions on the supply of private homes.

The ripple effect extends beyond real estate, affecting the wider economy, as Shih observed that the investment and consumption power in Hong Kong is being stifled. Property owners, facing a market devoid of buyers, are unable to liquidate their assets, thereby curtailing their spending and investment capabilities.

The Centaline chief described the current predicament as a consequence of historical financial interventions. The ‘spicy measures’ were originally instituted to cool an overheating market, awash with capital influx due to the US’ quantitative easing policy. However, Shih contends that with the current dearth of funding, these measures are now a barrier that prevents vital investment from entering the market.

Amidst concerns that property prices may not rebound even with the revocation of these measures, Shih underscored the gravity of the situation in his remarks at Centaline’s spring reception. He cautioned that a failure to eliminate these policies in the forthcoming Budget announcement could lead to a significant evaporation of assets, with dire consequences for society.

Shih highlighted the upcoming Budget, set for delivery next Wednesday, as a crucial and final opportunity for the government to act. He suggested that the political fallout of inaction could be severe, implying that financial officials, including the likes of Finance Minister Paul Chan Mo-po, might face career repercussions.

The business magnate did not mince words when he alluded to the potential political costs, suggesting that the forthcoming Chief Executive might exclude non-compliant officials from key appointments, such as the Financial Secretary.