In introducing the details of the investment-for-residency scheme yesterday, Hong Kong officials were careful to play down expectations that capital will come flooding into the city's stock and property markets. Indeed, as pointed out, the stock market alone is already worth $3.6 trillion. The scheme requires a minimum investment of $6.5 million and grants the investor permanent residency in Hong Kong after living here for seven years. Although the caveat about overblown expectations is sound advice, any added turnover would probably lift the mood in the markets and increase momentum to the recovery already under way. Some expressions of interest have already come from other parts of Southeast Asia, Australia and North America. The one place from which investors will not be coming, at least not directly, is the mainland. The reasons for this have largely to do with the mainland's tight controls on capital. Until this and other issues are sorted out, mainlanders will not be able to participate. There are good reasons for this to be the case; China's need to loosen the reins on currency exchange and its capital account at a pace appropriate for its domestic economy is one of them. As with the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement or the relaxation of rules to allow travellers from mainland cities to travel here on an individual basis, the investment-for-residency scheme is yet another potential source of economic stimulus for the city's economy. None of these programmes in and of themselves will turn the economy around, but they do offer a chance for Hong Kong to play to its strengths: a sound financial system, rule of law, expertise in selling services and an outward-looking economy. But there are other places in the world that have all these, plus a much better living environment than this crowded and polluted city. Indeed, cynics may wonder how many rich people would pay $6.5 million to buy the right to live here after seven long years. Yet, if there are residents of other countries who believe that Hong Kong makes a wise investment, there is no reason why we should not welcome them and their money. Foreign businessmen with much less money but concrete plans to start a business and professionals with no money but skills have long been welcome to invest and work here. The investment migration will not change that. Provided that safeguards are taken against the scheme being used for laundering money and rules are in place to ensure the money stays here - as appears to be the case - the city stands to benefit.