Columbaria instalments approved

July 11, 2018

Private columbaria seeking a licence will be able to pay land premiums for unsold niches by instalments.


The Chief Executive in Council endorsed the move today, which the Food & Health Bureau said will help private columbaria overcome problems in getting loans.


Borrowing money has been increasingly difficult since the enactment of the Private Columbaria Ordinance, it said.


As the licensing regime is new, it takes time for a financial institution to assess whether a private columbarium is likely to obtain a licence or not.


Under the payment by instalments option, the bureau said the land premium is assessed up front at the time of the land grant or transaction.


The interest rate to be charged by the Government will be the rate of investment return on fiscal reserves announced in the latest Budget, subject to a cap at the prevailing best lending rate plus 2%.


The maximum number of instalments will be capped at the number of years under the remaining term of the land lease or 10 years, whichever is the less.


In any case, the aggregate number of niches that can be sold or leased cannot exceed the total number of niches in respect of which the full land premium has been paid.


The Government has the sole discretion to decide whether to allow the payment by instalments option depending on the circumstances and merits of a case.


The bureau said operators will not automatically get a licence because of the instalment option.


The Licensing Board will still consider each application in strict accordance with the requirements for applying for a licence as set out in the ordinance.


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