'Same-day delivery' for restaurant licences
Businessmen who hire their own surveyors or architects to avoid red tape when applying for a restaurant licence are promised 'same-day approval' in a proposed reform.
The so-called fast-track process is a key recommendation contained in a consultancy study to speed up applications for restaurant licences.
At present, an application for a restaurant licence can take more than a year.
An applicant has to meet building, fire and hygiene requirements of various government departments before a licence is granted.
The study recommends a shortcut for those applicants who hire their own professionals.
It says: 'As the [fast-track] option requires the engagement of recognised professionals, it is suitable for restaurants that can afford or justify the cost of employing professionals.' For those who cannot afford professionals and have to rely on bureaucrats to screen their premises, the normal processing time will apply.
The report recommends using more high technology to process applications and faster delivery of documents.
The report does not consider it is discriminating against smaller operators.
It says: 'It is a commercial decision for the applicants to choose between the two options.' The consultancy study, commissioned by the Business and Services Promotion Unit of the Financial Secretary's Office, will be presented at a Legco committee meeting tomorrow on the Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganisation) Bill.