Move to ease the red tape blues

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 January, 1993, 12:00am

PEOPLE with a fear of bureaucracy could find their lives made easier with a new move to cut down on Hongkong's 7,000 official forms.

For the Government will be wading through them over the next 12 months and reducing unnecessary repetitions.

And a Trade Department proposal promises to please environmentalists too, when computerised forms which can be accessed on an electronic data interchange system are introduced.

Head of the Efficiency Unit Mr Robert Footman said yesterday that about 7,000 different forms frequently used by the public had been identified.

No target had been set on the number to be abolished, but departments were drawing up strategies to turn tedious type into user-friendly formats.

''The teams will go through all the forms . . . to see if they are user-friendly, or if they will smoothly help the departments do what they want to do. If certain forms can be abolished, they will be abolished,'' he said.

''At the end of the day, if we come out with only 700 forms instead of 7,000, I will be delighted. But I think that is probably a bit optimistic.

''One aspect we are particularly interested in pursuing . . . is either putting the existing system onto IT, or reducing the need to fill in the same information every time when it is already there from previous applications,'' Mr Footman said.

A newly-established business centre within the unit would help the process by providing technological advice to departments.

The Trade Department, acting in response to the policy, has identified 130 forms and a three-phase plan has been brought in to simplify them by September.

A spokeswoman said they had just embarked on the first phase, involving about 40 of the most commonly-used.

She said apart from making the forms user-friendly, they would also be introducing an electronic data interchange system that would allow the public to apply for trade certificates or licences through their own computers.