Import scheme defended

THE number of mainland professionals being brought in to work under a pilot scheme was ''extremely small'' compared with the territory's existing stock of professional and managerial workers, the Government said.

The scheme has received both criticism and support from legislators since the move was announced in the Budget.

The quota was less than 0.5 per cent of the work force at the managerial and professional level, Secretary for Education and Manpower Michael Leung Man-kin said.

Fewer than one per cent of professionals with expertise in China business were unemployed, indicating an urgent need for such people.

There would be no question of wage depression for locals as a result of the scheme, nor would it bring harm to local professional and managerial staff, Mr Leung said.