PLANS by the United States to base a Secret Service agent permanently in Hong Kong to combat counterfeiting have been thrown into chaos by deadlocked budget negotiations in Washington. It has dashed hopes to establish the full-time presence at the US Consulate by the end of the year. But officials insist a Secret Service office in Hong Kong will eventually be set up to replace the current arrangement whereby an agent occasionally visits from Hawaii. The decision to boost the anti-counterfeit operations was made in response to a rash of fakes in the region. Counterfeit US$100 (HK$773) notes proliferate in the territory with about 5,000 seized every year. As well as having to guard the US President, the Secret Service protects the country's currency and investigates fake credit cards. The delay is another casualty from the months of fighting between Congress and the White House over the Budget which led to a government shutdown last month. It was felt in Hong Kong with the US Consulate temporarily suspending services, including visa applications. Attempts to station a Secret Service agent here had been 'on and off the books for three years', said Senior Superintendent David Holloway of the Commercial Crime Bureau.