The government has suspended the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme that has been blamed for driving up property prices in the city, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The surprise move, which took effect Thursday, came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying delivered his third policy address on Wednesday.
The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, which grants residency for people who invest a certain amount in the city, was launched by former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa in October 2003 to boost the local economy in the wake of a severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, crisis.
The program drew over HK$200 billion of investment. The minimum investment threshold per applicant was initially at HK$6.5 million, before it was lifted to HK$10 million in 2010.
The government has received, as of the end of September last year, 40,400 applications. Of those, 24,500 were cleared while 2,389 received in-principle approval.
Almost 90 percent of applications and approvals came from mainland Chinese citizens.
Migration consultant Eddie Kwan estimated that about 600 applicants seized the last chance to lodge in an application yesterday.
The government has given a grace period for those who have invested no less than HK$10 million six months prior to the suspension of the scheme to file their applications within the coming six months.
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