Hong Kong kicks off controversial "locals only" property programme
HONG KONG, Sept 6
HONG KONG, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's new leader said on Thursday that the city would sell two plots of land to developers but the firms can only sell apartments built on the land to Hong Kong residents.
The "Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people" is widely viewed as a way to deflect criticism after mainland Chinese buyers helped drive up prices 89 percent since the end of 2008, making the city the world's most expensive place to buy a home.
Mainland buyers, who must still secure a visa to travel to Hong Kong, accounted for an all-time high of 51 percent of purchases in the third quarter of last year.
Leung, who took office on July 1 and has seen his popularity ratings plummet, said the government would start the controversial programme in the first quarter of next year. Hong Kong is famous for its free economy and lack of restrictions on foreign purchases.
Both of the plots are in the former airport, Kai Tak, on the Kowloon waterfront and could be built into about 1,100 apartments altogether. (Reporting by Alex Frew McMillan; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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