Hong Kong would have seen a much smaller increase in the number of workers contributing to the city’s economy if not for the one-way permit (OWP) scheme, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong.
In a blog post on Sunday, Law said about 960,000 mainland residents had come to settle in Hong Kong under the OWP scheme as of 2017.
Without these mainland migrants, whose daily quota is currently set at 150, Hong Kong would have 740,000 fewer population over the past 20 years while the labor force would have been 400,000 less, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Law also said there have been about 20,000 marriages between Hongkongers and mainlanders each year. This suggests that Hong Kong would have further lost 400,000 people, including 300,000 for the labor force, if the couples had not been allowed to live together in Hong Kong.
As the combined loss of workers could have amounted to more than 700,000, Law said he hopes the public will pause and think whether this would have positive or negative influence on Hong Kong society and economy.
In response to Law’s arguments, the Neo Democrats, which has been urging the government to call a halt to the OWP scheme, said in a statement that the government should abandon the myth that a growing population is beneficial to a city.
As it is, Hong Kong is already crowded with a population of over 7 million, and it would have been better if the figure was only 6.65 million, the pro-democracy party said.
With a smaller population, the city’s housing woes will ease and the government may no longer have to pursue its controversial plan to build artificial islands near Lantau.
Concerning cross-border marriages, the party said the issue is the responsibility of both Hong Kong and the mainland, not just Hong Kong’s.
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