Exclusion of statutory bodies opposed
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Pan-democrat lawmakers are considering moving an amendment to have a competition bill cover all statutory bodies, after most were excluded under the proposed law.
They were upset to learn that just six of 575 statutory bodies would be covered by the law, which aims to curb anti-competitive behaviour and provide a level playing field for companies.
Among bodies excluded are the Trade Development Council, Urban Renewal Authority, the Housing Authority and the Housing Society. They will instead be governed by an existing Competition Policy Advisory Group.
The six statutory bodies that come under the proposed law include the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and its general committee.
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah called the arrangement ridiculous and said he was considering trying to change it. 'The government should leave the decision-making power to the independent Competition Commission' which will be created under the law, Tong said.
A Legislative Council bills committee considering the legislation will be briefed on the exemption list today.
He pointed to the case of the Trade Development Council which Tong said had a 'close relationship' with New World Development, which runs the Convention and Exhibition Centre on its behalf.
The council's major competitor in the exhibition business also urged changes. Spenser Au, chief executive of Global Sources, said: '[The council] is the biggest player in the exhibition business. Exempting it will just distort the intent of the legislation.'
The government said 70 per cent of statutory bodies excluded from the bill had no commercial activities. The remainder only did so as part of the provision of public services.
The proposed law must be passed by the end of the Legco session in July or go back to the drawing board.
Odd ones out
Federation of Hong Kong Industries
Federation of Hong Kong Industries General Committee
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden Corporation
Matilda and War Memorial Hospital
Ocean Park Corporation