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October 22nd, 2013
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Urban Renewal Authority (URA) needs more transparency and regulation

The URA receives HK$ 10 Billion each year from the Hong Kong government; it promulgates transparency and is registered as a non-profit organisation. However, the URA refuses to release a breakdown of its revenues and balance sheets. On its website (www.ura.org.hk), you cannot find information about its shareholders and their respective shareholdings nor can you find detailed financial information about joint projects.

The URA works on joint projects with developers in Hong Kong and the latest one that sickens even the most devout of free market believers is the Tsim Sha Tsui project called the "Masterpiece" jointly developed by New World and the URA; New World has sold 39 units to business associates at the beginning of the private sales followed by sales of units to top management and their relatives to generate an artificial image of high demand and also to give buyers an opportunity to evade the payment of stamp duty.  This controversial sales tactic was adopted at the "Merton" in Kennedy Town - the last joint project between New World and the URA 5 years ago which generated an outcry from the public and others in the industry and yet 5 years later the same unscrupulous tactic has been allowed to recur.

Lawmakers need to step up the regulation of the URA and enact new rules to make the URA more accountable to the public, reduce its collusion with private developer through legal means and ensure that the URA’s powers are checked.

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