The controversial one-way permit quota system may be changed to allow places to be taken up by so-called 'mainland talent' under Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's population blueprint, says an official source. Mr Tsang also suggests the SAR should have the power 'to pick and choose' the right kind of talent that Hong Kong needs. Mr Tsang is putting the final touches to a report on Hong Kong's population policy before submitting it to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa for endorsement. It is expected to be released this week. At present, 150 mainlanders are allowed to migrate to Hong Kong each day for family reunions, but the authorities have no screening power. This year, Mr Tung, who is in favour of changing the policy on the daily quota, raised the issue with the central government. He has also promised to formulate a comprehensive population policy for the SAR's long-term social and economic development. The source said mainlanders coming in under the quota system form the biggest growth area of Hong Kong's present 6.8 million population. Two years ago, Mr Tung asked the Central Policy Unit to review the population policy, looking at the major contributors to population growth - migration from the mainland and the importation of foreign domestic helpers. He also wanted to look into how the shortage of professionals needed for economic restructuring could be addressed. The source said: 'The 150 daily quota is building up pressure on Hong Kong both socially and economically. Many of these migrants have a low to medium education level.' The Immigration Department says that since the Admission of Talents Scheme was launched on December 17, 1999, 254 'talented' people have been admitted out of 742 applications. The source said Hong Kong was urgently in need of professionals and it would offer attractive terms to tap talent. 'That's what we need - a mechanism with the central government so that professionals and better educated people come to Hong Kong,' he said. The source said there would be measures to ensure the policy would not be abused. Alan Siu Kai-fat, deputy-director of the Hong Kong Institute of Economic and Business Strategy at the University of Hong Kong, said the government's talent scheme had not been a success. 'The eligibility criteria are too rigid, and the scope is too narrow,' Dr Siu said. 'What is needed is just a level playing field. Just abolish all existing discriminating measures against workers from the mainland.' Dr Siu has already called on Mr Tsang, who has been holding talks with senior officials in Beijing on the 24-hour border crossing, to map out an immigration and visa policy for mainlanders. He said yesterday that to maintain Hong Kong's standard of living, more talented workers were needed. 'Discriminating against talent from the mainland is self-defeating,' Dr Siu said. The head of the Central Policy Unit, Lau Siu-kai, has previously admitted that rules for mainland professionals coming to work in Hong Kong are too harsh.