30 Jul 2009

Business migrant rule relaxation welcomed

6:11 am on 30 July 2009

The Government's move to relax entry conditions for business migrants will encourage investment in the productive economy and help close the gap with Australia, business advisory groups say.

Andrew Hamilton, chief executive of Icehouse, a firm specialising in promoting small business growth, helped advise on policy details.

Mr Hamilton says the initiative is on the right track by allowing investment either directly or indirectly in companies, but not in residential property nor permitting money to be simply deposited in a bank.

"What the Government is trying to do is align the cash with the productive economy and we have to feel pleased about that."

Tim Howe, from merchant banking and advisory firm Ocean Partners, believes the move will help close the economic gap with Australia.

He says it will have a positive effect as people seek to relocate from areas where they face difficult market conditions.

Mr Howe says there will be investment opportunities because New Zealand businesses desperately need access to capital to support growth.

Rule changes

English-language requirements are being lowered for investors as well as the amount of capital they need to bring into the country.

In the top category, there will be no English-language requirement for those bringing in $10 million of investment capital over three years.

Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman says the changes will not result in an influx of people who cannot speak English.

Instead, the changes should attract a small but wealthy group of business migrants, says Mr Coleman.

An entrepreneur category will also be introduced for people who can create at least three full-time jobs and invest $500,000 in their business.

But Labour says the Government has gone too far with the changes. Immigration spokesperson Pete Hodgson says the relaxation will give open entry to potentially unsavoury characters.

Just 23 people have entered New Zealand under the investor categories during the past two years.

Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee cannot say how many more people are expected to arrive as a result of the changes.