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Look Before You Leap: Assessing the Impact of Regulations

We were disappointed that we had to postpone a major international seminar on Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) that we were planning in late September, as some of our overseas speakers were not able to confirm that they could come to Hong Kong. This was not the first time that our planned events and meetings with high-level overseas visitors had to be cancelled.

We know that other events and trade exhibitions in Hong Kong have been postponed or have suffered from lower attendance than expected. Of course, it is understandable that businesspeople and tourists are reluctant to visit Hong Kong at present, due to the scenes of violent protests being screened around the world.

However, now that the Government has extended an olive branch by agreeing to formally withdraw the extradition bill -- which was the original trigger for the protests -- we really need to focus our efforts on getting Hong Kong back on track and restoring confidence.

As part of this, we need to learn from society’s grievances that have come to the surface in recent months. The Government has learnt that it can do a better job when it comes to explaining its policy decisions to the public, and also in giving citizens the opportunity to share their concerns. Putting a robust RIA process in place would create the framework for this to happen with every new piece of legislation.

An RIA process improves the quality of regulatory decision-making through a systematic assessment of the impact of any new regulations. Transparency and proper public consultation are also key aspects of RIA. This helps the public to understand the reasons behind new regulations, gives them the opportunity to share their thoughts, and ultimately gives them more confidence in the lawmaking process.

The Government has admitted that it mishandled the introduction of the extradition bill. The speed at which it attempted to pass this controversial bill was one of the key factors that caused alarm among citizens.

Since then, the Government has stressed that it will collect feedback from the public. We saw the sincerity last night by the Chief Executive and some of her team reaching out to the public to hear their views and concerns face to face. We believe this was a good first step and we hope it will continue as it will ensure Government has a good grasp of issues taxing on people’s minds and lives. We firmly believe that, combined with a full RIA process, the Government will be in a far better-informed position to formulate policies that will benefit the entire Hong Kong community.

 

Posted on 2019/09/27