Departing Hong Kong residents took HK$2.1b from pensions in Q2

Residents leaving Hong Kong for good withdrew a total of HK$2.114 billion (US$269.31 million) from their pension accounts in the second quarter of 2022, up 0.9 percent from a year earlier, government data showed on Wednesday, a sign that more people were moving out of the financial hub.

Curbs to control the spread of Covid-19 are partly blamed for a net outflow of 113,200 people from Hong Kong between mid-2021 and mid-2022, according to government estimates.

The city had a population of around 7.29 million at mid-2022, as compared to 7.41 million at mid-2021.

A total of 8,600 claims to withdraw from the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) were made in the April-June quarter, compared with the 8,000 claims taking out HK$2.095 billion during the same period in 2021, the data showed.

The figure was higher than the 7,500 claims for the January-March quarter that saw withdrawals of HK$2.014 billion.

The provident fund authority said multiple claims are sometimes made by a single person as a scheme member may have more than one account under the MPF System.

Hong Kong's Covid restrictions, considered among the most stringent in the world, have weighed on the city's economy since early 2020, grinding tourism and business trips to a halt and battering bars, restaurants and shops repeatedly for prolonged periods.

Hong Kong has closed its border with the mainland and the rest of the world for more than 2-1/2 years, and repeatedly enforced lockdowns and quarantines in line with China's "zero-Covid" policy of stamping out outbreaks as they arise with tough restrictions.

A national security law imposed on the city in June 2020 has also prompted some residents to abandon Hong Kong amid fears they could fall foul of the legislation that punishes anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession, terrorism or colluding with foreign forces with up to life in prison.