Affordable housing income caps may rise 18 percent

Thursday, July 7, 2011
Issue 1351, Page 2
Word count: 490
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The government has proposed a new calculation method of income limits for affordable housing applications under which, the ceilings will be raised by 18 percent.

According to the work report submitted by the government last week, the income ceilings for a one-person household and for a household with two persons or above will be increased to MOP 17,000 and MOP 34,018 respectively, the President of the Third Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly, Cheang Chi Keong, told reporters after meeting with the Secretary for Transport and Public Works.

The standing committee has been deliberating the draft law for the “Construction and Sale System of Affordable Housing”, which Cheang said has now been renamed “Affordable Housing Law”.

The current income caps for the two categories are MOP 14,328 and MOP 28,700 respectively.

Cheang said the new calculation method was proposed as the government wanted to relax application requirements so that up to “80 percent of the Macau population” and people from the so-called “sandwich class” could be eligible to apply.

Cheang also said the committee members/lawmakers have agreed to the increase.

The government has not yet disclosed what the lower income limits for affordable housing applicants would be. Yet the committee president said it would not face “any big problems” as the draft law proposes that affordable housing’s lower income limits will be the same as social housing income ceilings.

In addition, Cheang told reporters the government decided to give priority to the disabled and people with serious illnesses in the allocation of affordable housing units, alongside the elderly who are already enjoying the privilege.

The standing committee also deemed that the change is necessary and can respond to society’s demands, Cheang said.

On the other hand, the government has decided that it should have first rights to buy the affordable housing units back from the occupants if they want to sell them after the 16-year lock up period under the new law.

According to the provision drafted by the government, the occupant will first be required to find a buyer and afterwards he/she will need to inform the authority about the agreed selling price and enquire whether it wishes to exercise its first rights to repurchase the unit.

Cheang said if the government exercises its right to repurchase, the sale price will be what was previously agreed upon by the buyer.

However, he stressed that under this arrangement the occupant will still have to reimburse the government the ‘subsidy’ he/she enjoyed at least 16 years ago.

Cheang said the work report will be revised again based on yesterday’s comments by lawmakers and that the new draft is expected to be completed before July 15.

He also said the deliberation phase is drawing to a close, adding that both the standing committee and the government have “great confidence” that the draft bill can be put up for the final reading before the legislature’s summer break scheduled to begin on August 15.

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