Harder now for foreign investors to get PR status

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On April 19, 2012
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Straits Times: Thu, Apr 19

THE road for wealthy foreigners to get permanent residency status in Singapore just got harder.

Criteria for the Global Investor Programme (GIP), which targets entrepreneurial investors from overseas, have been tightened. The GIP is administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB), together with the Ministry of Manpower, through Contact Singapore.

Those approved under the programme get placed on the fast track to permanent residency status.

In an email reply to The Straits Times, an EDB spokesman said the ‘EDB reviews the GIP regularly to ensure that it continues to engage quality entrepreneurs and business owners who can contribute to Singapore economically and are keen to be rooted in Singapore’.

Contact Singapore amended the criteria for GIP on Sunday. It said the annual turnover of a company by a GIP applicant has to be at least $50 million in the most recent year, up from $30 million previously. The average amount of money made for the past three years also has to be at least $50 million a year, up from $30 million previously.

For applicants whose companies are in real estate- or construction-related industries, the bar has been set even higher. Their companies have to make at least $200 million in the most recent year, and an average of $200 million in the past three years – also up from $30 million.

Under this programme, the EDB assists applicants by linking up entrepreneurs and investors with local business networks and partners to help them implement their business investments here.

EDB did not mention how quick the expedited application process is, but said that ‘the time taken to process each application differs on a case-by-case basis, depending on the completeness of information received’.

These changes come hot on the heels of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s announcement that it would be scrapping the Foreign Investor Scheme, which provides a fast track to permanent residency for wealthy foreigners who invest some of their money here.

Citigroup economist Kit Wei Zheng thinks these changes signal that the Government is taking a more discriminating approach to its immigration policy.

‘Increasing the threshold does encourage larger companies, and hopefully provide a lot more jobs for the locals. This also improves the quality of investments. But to be fair, $30 million is not a small sum as well,’ he said.

He added that with the Government’s push towards greater productivity, larger companies may be better equipped to exploit the productivity measures.

Similarly, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chief executive Phillip Overmyer said: ‘The sense is Singapore is raising the price of its permanent residency, and in order to get here, what you (the applicants) have to bring – the kind of money and investments – have to be more in line with the kind of investments Singapore is seeking now.’

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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