The government's decision to quietly suspend the significant investor visa (SIV) program until July 2015 has attracted the ire of one Australian fund manager.
Speaking to InvestorDaily, DomaCom chief executive Arthur Naoumidis said the "surprise suspension" of the SIV program was marked by a "lack of consultation and notice".
A statement by the Department of Immigration/Austrade on 9 April announced the suspension of SIV nominations between 24 April to 30 June.
"Following a review of the SIV in 2014, changes designed to see the full potential of the government's investor visa scheme realised will come into force on 1 July 2015," said the statement.
From July 2015 the SIV program will have a new complying investment framework "which will target investments which can deliver even more economic benefit to Australia", said the government.
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb has previously hinted that a future SIV program should mandate more investment in Australian start-ups and venture capital.
But the suspension of the SIV program came as a surprise to Mr Naoumidis and other stakeholders currently taking part in the inaugural Australian Food, Wine and Investment Expo in Shanghai.
DomaCom is one of a number of Australian product providers currently meeting with SIV-eligible Chinese investors as part of the expo, which is being co-hosted by the Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals and the Asia Pacific Stock Exchange (which is owned by Australian-domiciled AIMS Financial Group).
"Given the numerous rounds of consultation that Austrade went through in the past year it came out of the blue when they announced the suspension of the program," Mr Naoumidis said.
"As a small company, we had to make financial commitments many months in advance and it was not appreciated to have the surprise suspension," he said.
"Here we are in Shanghai with banners [and other material] that was organised many weeks ago [and we're] meeting with many prospective investors, and suddenly we do not know what we can say," Mr Naoumidis said.
"The current SIV program has been in force for several years – what was the urgency behind the sudden suspension? Surely Austrade could have flagged the suspension last year?" he asked.
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