Openness urged to boost city's business appeal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2005, 12:00am

Scholars and a legislator have urged the government to improve co-ordination between departments and efficiency in decision-making to boost Hong Kong's competitiveness.

Hong Kong needed to increase its policy-making transparency to better compete with other cities, City University's School of Continuing and Professional Education chief lecturer James Sung Lap-kung said yesterday.

'The way the government handled the Cyberport and West Kowloon cultural development projects ... it's understandable people would think there are government favouritisms,' Mr Sung told RTHK's City Forum as it tackled Hong Kong's drop in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) competitiveness rankings, out last week.

'With some people starting to worry about a resumption of a high land-price policy, and the controversy over covert surveillance, Hong Kong should increase its transparency to stay as competitive as other cities,' Mr Sung said.

He said problems over co-ordination among government departments had been a long-standing issue.

Hong Kong fell from 21st to 28th place on the WEF's competitiveness index, with concerns over judicial independence, rising corruption and intellectual property rights cited.

Although government officials played down the report, Lui Hon-kwong, associate professor at Lingnan University's marketing and international business department, said the officials did not understand the index.

'Part of the report focuses on science technology, and indeed Hong Kong is very weak in this area,' Professor Lui said.

He said the report did not solely focus on the competitiveness of a place, but also on its increase in competitiveness.

Legislator Chan Yuen-han said the government should abandon its non-interventionist policy when dealing with certain problems.

'The government always says it values the market-driven mechanism, and, therefore, should not interfere with the economy ... it seems like the government doesn't really care about [attracting business people],' she said.

Hong Kong Economic and Trade Association president Eddy Li Sau-hang said the government was not doing enough to help the business sector. He said it did not realise that some laws, such as those relating to the use of industrial buildings, were outdated, limiting business opportunities.