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HK to tender land for private hospitals by end 2011-official

HONG KONG: Hong Kong will offer four pieces of land for the development of private hospitals, with the first to go up for tender before the end of 2011, the city's health minister said.

"We decided last year to promote private hospital care in Kong Kong," Secretary for Health York Chow told reporters on the sidelines of a healthcare conference in Hong Kong on Thursday, Feb 17.

"One way to encourage people to build private hospitals is to provide dedicated land and conditions," Chow said. "If we use commercial land tenders, people will prefer to build offices or residential buildings, but now we are limiting development to hospitals."

Hong Kong's residential property is the most expensive in the world and its office rents are also among the highest, according to real estate consultants.

Healthcare in Hong Kong is primarily provided by the government, but the authorities have long said the system will become unsustainable in the future. In recent years, the government has been formulating a policy to encourage the private sector to shoulder a bigger part of the responsibility in the form of private healthcare insurance.

Chow said the first site would be tendered before the end of the year, with the remainder to be offered by middle of next year.

"[The successful bidders] will have to build hospitals, nothing else. They will own the hospitals, but whether they operate the facility is their decision," he said.

The first hospital should be completed by 2016. The four sites were in Wong Chuk Hang, Tai Po, Tung Chung and Tseung Kwan O, he added.

The government has received more than 30 letters of interest for the projects, with some from international companies, he said, declining to identify any of them. — Reuters

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