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Enhancing Hong Kong’s Attractiveness Through Better Legislation

As we put together the Chamber’s schedule of events for the autumn, I’m particularly excited to let our members know that we have secured two high-level international experts to come to Hong Kong in November to deliver a seminar on Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).

RIA is one of the key priorities for the Chamber’s lobbying efforts, so we are delighted to offer our members and Government officials this fantastic opportunity to learn how other regions have introduced and employed RIA.

For example, the United Kingdom has in place a “one-in, two-out” rule on the introduction of new regulations to avoid adding compliance costs to businesses. Under that rule, government agencies are required to ensure that every GBP1 of cost that may arise as a result of a piece of new legislation is offset by a reduction in GBP2. In other words, there should be a saving of GBP2 for every GBP1 imposed due to a new law coming into force.

We are therefore delighted to have secured Anthony Browne, Chairman of the Regulatory Policy Committee in the U.K. as a speaker at our seminar. We are also pleased to have invited Ike Brannon from the United States, formerly of the Cato Institute, who has a wealth of experience in this field and look forward to their insights into the best practices in their respective countries.

We have also secured two distinguished and well-respected local speakers, namely, Prof Richard Wong, Chair of Economics at the University of Hong Kong, and Nicholas Sallnow-Smith, Chairman of the Lion Rock Institute, to share their thoughts on how the Government could go about regulating smartly.

In many jurisdictions, carrying out an RIA before new regulations are introduced is standard practice. In fact, virtually all OECD members have a compulsory RIA process.

What we do have is the Be the Smart Regulator programme, which the Government introduced in 2007. This was certainly a step in the right direction to improve the efficiency and transparency of legislation, and a Hong Kong RIA could build on this foundation.

RIA is a systematic approach to assessing the impact of any new piece of regulation, and includes measuring the costs to businesses of compliance.

Following an RIA, all stakeholders will be able to see in black and white the likely effects of proposed regulations. Small niggles can be ironed out at an early stage, and if serious issues are found the proposal can go back to the drawing board. RIA can also be used to review existing legislation, which would enable us to update or remove out-of-date laws.

Another key aspect of RIA is consultation with affected stakeholders. In other words, businesses have the opportunity to share their thoughts on regulations that affect them before they are implemented.

The seminar will take place on 15 November, followed by a workshop the next day. We hope that this two-day programme will be very useful in helping the Hong Kong business community and other interested parties to better understand the RIA process. As the contents of the seminar and workshop are also of relevance to the Government, we are partnering with the Policy Innovation and Coordination Office and Efficiency Office to promote both events among senior officials.

I believe that to ensure Hong Kong remains one of the best places in the world to do business, we should adopt RIA as soon as possible. I sincerely hope that we will see positive results from our lobbying efforts, and, before too long, all of our members will be able to enjoy the benefits of a Hong Kong RIA.

Posted on 2018/09/03