Hong Kong’s leader on new real estate measures, attracting overseas talent

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee arrives to deliver his policy speech at the Hong Kong Legislative Council on October 19, 2022.

Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee on Wednesday announced plans to attract talent and investment to the city.

In his first policy speech since taking office in July, Lee said the government would set aside billions to lure businesses to the city and launch a so-called top talent pass program to “incentivize talents to pursue their careers in Hong Kong”.

Hong Kong has lost thousands of people since the start of the pandemic, worsening the “brain drain” from the international financial center.

“Over the past two years, the local workforce has shrunk by approximately 140,000. In addition to actively nurturing and retaining local talent, the government will actively scour the world for talent,” according to an official transcript of his speech.

Individuals earning an annual salary of approximately $318,000 or more, and graduates of the world‘s top 100 universities who have three years of work experience within the past five years, will be eligible for a two-year pass “to explore opportunities in Hong Kong.”

Foreigners who enter Hong Kong under talent attraction programs, purchase residential property and become permanent residents will be able to apply for a refund of buyer’s stamp duty and new residential stamp duty for their first property, said Lee.

“The arrangement applies to any sale and purchase agreement entered into from today (October 19, 2022) and thereafter,” he added.

House prices in Hong Kong have seen quarterly declines since the third quarter of last year, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose slightly in early trading before giving up those gains. Before the speech, he was down more than 0.8%. It dropped more than 1% during the speech.

Shares of Hong Kong-listed property companies gave up earlier gains as Lee spoke. At the lunch break, China Overseas Land and Investment rose 2.25%, CK Asset gained 2.42% and Sino Land rose 1.11%. Country Garden also added 0.71%.

Lee, a Beijing loyalist, was the sole candidate in the May election to replace his predecessor Carrie Lam. About 1,500 members of a largely pro-Beijing election committee voted and Lee won 1,416 votes to become Hong Kong’s top leader.

Hong Kong was a British colony before being ceded to China in 1997 to be governed under a “one country, two systems” framework. Hong Kong has been promised 50 years of autonomy and has freedoms other Chinese cities do not have, including limited voting rights.

This is breaking news. Please check for updates.

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