IPIM comes under fire again

Lawmakers point the finger at trade body’s sluggish and lax procedures, in the wake of strong criticism by Macao’s graft busters.

IPIM applications Macao
Photo by Pixabay

More than 100 temporary residency permit applications are being investigated for suspected fraud, The Macau Post Daily has reported.

Lawmaker Si Ka Lon, president of the legislature’s Follow-up Committee for Public Administration Affairs, said that the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) had reviewed more than 3,000 applications submitted in previous years, and found 101 suspicious.

Si spoke out following a closed-door meeting about the controversial scheme between committee members and IPIM officials.

According to Si, last year IPIM received 94 temporary residency applications by professionals and investors, comprising six applications by investors and 88 by professionals, adding that so far none of the cases has been approved.

Si also noted that out of the 3,000 accepted applications accumulated over the years, IPIM last year processed 14 cases and approved three temporary residency permits.

Si pointed out that IPIM last year also received 382 temporary residency permit renewal applications, adding that the government-run institute processed 361 applications and renewed 226.

Si said that the committee had expressed concern about the “sluggish” application process, adding that a number of employers and employees have complained about IPIM’s apparent lack of urgency.

Si also said there were complaints that the requirements for temporary residency renewal applications varied from time to time.

Si said that some complainants have pointed out that since 2017 IPIM has implemented stricter rules when renewing temporary residency permits, even though the law had not changed. Si added that the requirements sometimes varied and applicants did not understand why their permits were not renewed. Si said that the committee was urging IPIM to provide a clear list of the requirements for applicants to renew their temporary residency permits.

In 2018, the Commission Against Corruption published a hard-hitting report regarding IPIM’s approval of temporary residency permit applications by professionals and investors. The report noted that the application review process in 2008-2017 was “careless” and involved a number of suspected fraud cases. Macao’s graft busters urged IPIM to tighten its approval requirements to weed out bogus applications.

Si said that the committee also urged IPIM to implement “new rules for new applicants” and “old rules for old applicants”, meaning that new applicants would need to follow the updated “to-do” list for approving temporary residency permit applications, while the old applicants would only need to follow the rules that were in force at the time of their original application.