Good value

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 September, 2003, 12:00am


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There has been a lot of talk lately that the Hong Kong government is making life more difficult for expatriates by not allowing their spouses to work and making it harder to get permanent residency.

I do not see a problem regarding the latter. The only advantage in becoming a permanent resident is that you are able to pass through immigration faster.

The government should, however, realise the benefits it gets from this group. Foreign companies employ about 40 per cent of the workforce (although companies like Swire and HSBC are considered almost local). In contrast with locals, most expats pay income tax.

Most expats do not use government medical facilities but instead have private medical care. And, importantly, most live in the middle to high end of the rental market and so support a pillar of the economy.

What would happen to this market if there were no expats?

The expat may not be married to a local, or have bought a house here and may not see Hong Kong as his or her home forever.

However, unlike mainland immigrants, who use all government facilities and are therefore a huge cost to society and see Hong Kong as their final home, expats contribute a great deal financially.

It would therefore not be wise to alienate them. Instead, cherish them.

JEFFRY KUPERUS, Southern District