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Thursday, January 15, 2015, 16:36

HK has limited capacity for immigrants: CE

By Kahon Chan / chinadailyasia.com

HONG KONG - Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told the Legislative Council on Thursday that the government had to make a choice on accepting new immigrants in light of Hong Kong's capacity constraints.

Millionaires holding foreign passports could become Hong Kong residents under the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme before it was suspended effective midnight Wednesday.

Immigration and investment consultants were shocked by the abrupt end of a lucrative business. About 12,000 applications had been filed for the capital entrant scheme between April 2013 and September 2014. Dozens more were stuffed into the application box before the midnight deadline.

Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, a lawmaker representing the financial services, wanted to know at the question-and-answer session whether the move indicated an end to the city's strategic positioning as an asset management hub.

The city chief assured lawmakers that the authorities are not giving up efforts to expand the financial sector of Hong Kong. Capital investments would remain important, but Leung said the city's capacity constraints meant it could not let its population grow without a limit.

Hong Kong's current economic position is vastly different from that in 2003 when the capital entrant scheme was launched and it was no longer in need, said Leung, who did not elaborate if the scheme had been shelved for good.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok revealed at a press conference on Thursday that applicants who made investments on or before Wednesday midnight would also be accepted in the next six months.

He explained entrepreneurs seeking to move into the city will still be considered if they submit a concrete business plan that create new jobs, bring in new skills or technologies, or make contributions to the economy. But as Hong Kong is no longer short of capital investment, the immigration scheme becomes unnecessary.

With over 12,500 outstanding applications yet to be processed, Lai said it will take two to three years for the Immigration Department to clear the backlog. Over 90 percent of applicants hold right of abode in the Chinese mainland and one of three African countries.

 
 
 
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