Monday, 9 April 2018

More Benefits for the Rich

Some of the top landlords own thousands of properties in Hong Kong
In this year's budget Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po tried to give more benefits to the middle class, and for the most part they were little concessions here and there, like waiving government rates that are paid quarterly.

He raised the waiver from a maximum of HK$1,000 per quarter in the last financial year to HK$2,500 per quarter for a full year.

Property owners can save up to HK$10,000 a year (whoo hoo!) on each flat, but it looks like the uber rich will have the last laugh because they not only own hundreds of properties, but thousands of them, saving millions of dollars from paying these government rates.

Paul Chan thought taxpayers would like the rates waivers
The top 10 landlords in Hong Kong own over 40,000 properties among them and so they will benefit from waivers worth HK$256 million (US$32.8 million) this financial year.

According to figures from the Financial Service and the Treasury Bureau on Monday, the top ratepayer alone was expected to receive a concession of HK$102. 6 million from the 15,645 rateable properties owned.

Can you imagine owning that many properties? You and your extended family never have to work, just collect rent and live very well for the rest of your lives.

Then the next nine ratepayers will save between HK$8.9 million to HK$23.3 million for the 1,258 to 5,038 properties they hold.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun believes the landlords are property developers, and the government is just helping them become even more rich.

But James To believes it's the developers who benefit the most
"It is utterly inappropriate to offer over HK$102 million to someone who owns over 15,000 units," he said. "That's returning the wealth to the wealthy."

He said properties owned by companies should be considered as investments and so they should not benefit from these rates concessions.

"These investors do not need help from the government... Why should the government benefit these big conglomerates," he said.

"Even if middle-class citizens use a company [they set up] to buy a flat for self-occupation, the rates waivers should only be limited to one unit."

Also, most tenants don't benefit from the rates waivers as their landlords usually paid them, which means these properties are for commercial use, not for private use.

So once again the government hasn't clearly thought out this rates waiver and done enough research to realize that the biggest benefactor are those who own thousands of flats, while those who are only allowed to own one (or can only afford one), the benefit is a small gesture.

The ones who really need help -- renters and first-time home buyers -- are shut out.

Where is the love?

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