Regulatory Impact Assessment: Improving the Lawmaking Process

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has promised to remove the regulatory bottlenecks that impede the growth of businesses in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce believes that the introduction of a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) framework is a key element in solving this problem.

HKGCC today launched an in-depth two-day programme to discover more about RIA. Best practices in other jurisdictions can serve as a template for designing an effective RIA framework that is appropriate for Hong Kong, and in today’s seminar, four experts -- including two from, respectively, the United Kingdom and the United States – shared their insights. Tomorrow, participants will be given the opportunity to tap into the U.K. experience at a full-day workshop conducted by senior executives from the U.K.’s Regulatory Policy Committee Secretariat.

“Hong Kong companies have become increasingly burdened by rules and regulations that have either outlived their intended purpose or impose heavy compliance costs,” said Chamber Chairman Aron Harilela. “This slows down our ability to grow and runs the risk of making us less competitive than our rivals.

“We do not object to laws per se, nor are we calling for fewer laws. Instead, the focus should be on having better laws. A robust RIA framework can improve the regulatory process to benefit businesses and the whole Hong Kong community.”

Anthony Browne, Chairman of the U.K. Regulatory Policy Committee, and Ike Brannon, President of Capital Policy Analytics and former Senior Fellow with the Cato Institute in the United States, shared their experiences in this afternoon’s seminar. Participants then heard a Hong Kong perspective from Richard Wong, Professor of Political Economy at The University of Hong Kong, and Nicholas Sallnow-Smith, Chairman of the Lion Rock Institute.

This provided a unique opportunity to learn from key experts about the benefits of RIA and how its effectiveness is measured.

In the U.K., for example, the Regulatory Policy Committee provides an independent assessment of the cost-benefit analyses provided by government agencies. Since the launch of the Committee in 2009, the percentage of proposed regulations that were found to be fit for purpose has grown from 56% to 80% -- partly due to the change in culture. The U.K. also has a “one in, two out” approach to new regulation, to reduce the overall volume of rules. And the U.K. government has introduced a target of reducing the cost to business of regulations by 9 billion pounds (HK$92 billion) over five years.

“Here at HKGCC, we have long championed the need for a proper, fully fledged, and mandatory RIA framework in Hong Kong and we can learn a great deal from the U.K. experience, in particular on reviewing existing legislation and removing outdated ones,” said Chamber CEO Shirley Yuen.

“The practice in the U.K shows how a robust, transparent and evidence-based approach to regulatory assessment not only ensures better laws and lower costs for business, but also helps change the culture and mindset of policymakers.”

She added, “If we were able to remove some of the existing regulatory burdens on businesses, it would go a long way to facilitate the development of various services sectors in Hong Kong.”

Photo captions:

Photo 1: Chamber Chairman Aron Harilela delivers the welcome remarks.

Photo 2: Back Row (Left to Right): Nicholas Sallnow-Smith, Richard Wong, Leland Sun, Anthony Browne, James “Ike” Brannon

Front Row (Left to Right): Olivia Nip, Kevin Yeung, Bernard Chan, Aron Harilela, Matthew Cheung, Shirley Yuen, Betty Fung

Photo 3: More than 100 guests packed  the Chamber’s Theatre for today’s seminar.

Media inquiries: Please contact Mr Anthony Cheng at 2823 1250 /