For Immediate Release
Hong Kong needs to make its highest priority the economy, implementing plans to raise our competitiveness, and lightening the regulatory burden on businesses, HKGCC Chairman Stephen Ng stressed at a forum organized for Chief Executive-elect of the HKSAR Mrs Carrie Lam today.
Around 220 business executives attended the closed-door session at HKGCC’s headquarters to exchange views with Lam on what issues they hope her new Administration will prioritize in the coming months. Chief among these are uniting society, boosting Hong Kong’s competitiveness and improving the business environment after years of shooting ourselves in the foot.
“Hong Kong is hurting badly from global uncertainties and domestic politics, which has hijacked the economic and social agenda,” said Ng. “Businesses are not sure how they can survive this harsh economic environment. SMEs are trying to predict how long they will be able to last before the endless additional regulatory burden and compliance costs force them to close down their operations for good.”
Participants attending the forum expressed their concerns that the current Administration has been pandering to populism by hammering businesses with barrage after barrage of new regulations. Little or no effort has been made to study or try and understand what impact new regulations will have on the economy and society. Attendees cited the abolition of the MPF offsetting mechanism as the most recent, and potentially most devastating, example of how no consideration has been given to potential consequences of far-reaching shifts in policy.
“To say SMEs are extremely worried about the latest proposal to eliminate offsetting and require employers to pay extra for severance and long service payments is an understatement,” said Ng. “Many businesses will not be able to afford this double burden and will be driven to bankruptcy.”
Chamber CEO Shirley Yuen said the MPF offsetting issue is yet another clear demonstration of how the lack of thorough consideration and consensus building among all stakeholders will jeopardize the entire economy. “The outgoing Administration has been piling on layer after layer of additional legislation on top of totally outdated regulations without even stopping to think how these will affect employers, employees and Hong Kong overall,” she said. “At the end of the day these ill-considered measures do nothing to help Hong Kong, and only serve to burden businesses and increase their compliance costs.”
HKGCC hopes the new Administration will take a more holistic approach into addressing problems facing Hong Kong and make conducting regulatory impact assessments a priority to help policymakers arrive at informed decisions. We also hope that Lam can address the skills and labour shortage in Hong Kong. Other priorities for the new Administration include implementing the two-tiered profits tax measure proposed by HKGCC as soon as possible, as well as developing innovation and technology sectors, particularly in FinTech and RegTech.
HKGCC’s full list of proposals for the fifth-term Administration can be read on the Chamber’s website.
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