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Hong Kong set to Impose Vacancy Tax on Empty New Flats

HONG KONG: Hong Kong proposed a vacancy tax on empty new homes on Friday in an attempt to discourage developers from hoarding, but analysts expect the measure to have little impact on prices in the world’s least affordable property market.

The tax, at 200 % of a newly built unit’s rateable value, which is the estimated annual rental value of a property, will need to be approved by the city’s Legislative Council, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said.

The policy will not be applied on resold flats.

Hong Kong has one of the least affordable housing markets in the world and private home prices have been on a record-breaking run for 19 consecutive months, fuelling discontent among residents.

Under the proposed measure, developers would have to report the status of their new flats to the government annually, and the additional tax would be slapped on flats that had been left vacant for six out of the past 12 months.

Lam said the property market currently has at least 9,000 empty new flats, including some that were completed five years ago.

“Today, when the housing supply is so tight and the demands for ownership are so strong, it is hard to understand why so many flats are left empty,” she said.

Lam also said the government would modify a Pre-sale Consent Scheme so that developers would have to push out at least 20 percent of their flats during pre-sales.

“In recent years we see flats are sold in the way toothpaste is squeezed out of the tube,” Lam said. “This will be unacceptable in the future.”

The government said nine plots of land previously allocated for private homes would now be used for public housing.

A vacancy tax could be a double-edged sword for the housing market, according to property consultancy JLL.

“Developers may consider funnelling the additional costs to buyers to offset the vacancy tax, leveraging on the strong levels of demand in the market,” Ingrid Cheh, associate director of research department at JLL, said this week. ( Editing by Anne Marie Roantree & Shri Navaratnam)

Fire NOCs to be mandatory for homes in Chandigarh

CHANDIGARH: To ensure fire safety norms are complied with, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) is all set to make no objection certificates (NOC) mandatory for residential buildings.

At present, fire NOCs are required for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.

Taking note of the fact that residential buildings are not equipped with fire-fighting systems, the UT administration has decided to make NOC submission mandatory.

Once the move is implemented, the residents will have to apply for NOCs at the fire department for both old and new constructions and pay the prescribed fee.

Residents would be required to submit the fire protection plan indicating complete fire fighting arrangements and the means of access and escape.

According to the norms, a building must have a staircase for providing access and exit and should be equipped with fire-fighting system such as fire alarm, sprinklers, and smoke or heat detectors.

UT chief fire officer Anil Kumar Garg said NOCs would be required for residential properties on the pattern of other buildings. “It will be made mandatory for all old as well as new buildings,” he added.

Federation of Sector Welfare Associations of Chandigarh chairman Baljinder Singh Bittu welcomed the move but urged the authorities to ensure that the residents do not face harassment at the hands of the officials.

“The process should be made hassle free,” said Bittu.

The issue will be discussed in the house meeting on June 29.

The Chandigarh administration has already made NOCs manding 29, 41, 40, 44, 43, 45, 47, 38 (west), 51, 55, 56, 63 and Modern Housing Complex, with around 64,000 units of 100 different categories.

There are also 112 group housing societies in Sectors 48, 49, 50, and 51 in the city, having over 1,000 flats. datory for basements in residential buildings having area more than 200 square metre by bringing an amendment in the Chandigarh Building Rules (Urban), 2017.

List of property tax defaulters to be published from June 29: Puducherry LG

PUDUCHERRY: Continuing with the ‘name and shame’ approach, Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi today said the territorial government would publish from tomorrow a list of names of those who have defaulted on property tax.

In a whatsapp message to media persons here in this regard, Bedi said the list of defaulters was a follow-up of the ‘mission recovery’ the government launched a few days ago to collect the outstandings from different categories of power consumers.

She said she has held a joint meeting with officials of local administration department and also the president of the Puducherry Traders Association Shankar earlier in the day at Raj Nivas.

It was decided at the meeting that the list of defaulters owing property tax to the local bodies be published from tomorrow, she said.

Over Rs 15 crores as property tax were due to the municipal bodies, she said.

Bedi had said the government would publish the names of defaulters in newspapers and also announce them on FM radio channels.

Also, the Lieutenant Governor said that as against 15,000 shops in the union territory, only 3,000 shopowners were found to have trade licence. The rest would be covered through a special drive so that the revenue of local bodies would improve instead of depending on the government for grants, she added.

Review meetings would be held every month to ensure full coordination and improve financial position of the local bodies, she said.

Ineligible beneficiaries to be excluded from LIFE mission: LSG minister

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: LSG minister KT Jaleel said that ineligible beneficiaries will be excluded from LIFE mission beneficiary list. He was talking at the plan review meeting of local bodies here on Thursday.

Village extension officers are scrutinising whether undeserving people are included in the list of LIFE mission which has been approved by Gram sabhas. The government will not make changes in the number of houses being constructed. Local bodies can avail the help of voluntary organisations to execute housing projects under LIFE mission.Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee scheme could also be used for the scheme,” said KT Jaleel.

72 gram panchayats, three municipalities and corporation have finalised the beneficiaries for LIFE mission in the district. 45 panchayats and two municipalities have handed over the beneficiary list to implementing officials. The minister also directed the panchayat secretaries to hand over the beneficiary list in a time bound manner.

4053 houses have been completed under LIFE mission in the district. The work on 1076 houses is progressing. SC department has completed 313 houses and ST department has completed 401 houses in the district.


Pune civic body issues notices to over 1,400 properties in June

PUNE: PMC officials have issued notices to 1,472 properties, including bungalows, housing societies and commercial establishments, between June 1 and 22 for facilitating mosquito breeding on their premises.

The city has already registered 160 cases of dengue in the last 25 days, the highest recorded in any month this year so far. Of these, private hospitals reported 141 cases and government-designated centres 19.

“We have started house-to-house survey in the city to identify households facilitating mosquito breeding on their premises. The defaulters have been issued notices, in which they have been categorically asked to prevent mosquito breeding by observing certain norms or face action,” Sanjeev Wavare, head of the insect control department at PMC, said.

Despite notices being served and penalties being levied, there has been no significant drop in the number of properties having mosquito-breeding sites. “We have decided to file court cases against chronic offenders,” Wavare added.

As per PMC record, city has recorded a total of 371 dengue cases this year so far. Of them, private hospitals recorded 324 cases and government run sentinel centres recorded 47. The number of dengue cases has recorded a sharp rise since May. In April, areas within PMC limits had recorded 23 cases, which increased to 54 in May. The cases have gone up to 160 (till June 26) now.

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