Council chief pledges to let lawmakers look into body's books

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 5:22am

The controversial Financial Services Development Council has promised to represent small financial players and allow lawmakers to review its financial statements in a move to ensure transparency.

The 22-member council, the brainchild of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was set up two weeks ago to promote the financial industry.

It is headed by Laura Cha Shih May-lung, an Executive Council member and a former vice-chairwoman of the Securities and Futures Commission.

However, lawmakers complain that the council is beyond the ambit of their scrutiny as it was established as a priv- ate company. They also say its functions overlap with those of other regulators and promotional bodies.

In a monthly meeting of the Legislative Council's financial affair panel yesterday, lawmakers passed a non-binding motion to require the council to be operated as a government consultation body, which means it would have to report more to Legco members.

But since the motion is non-binding, the council does not need to follow it.

However, Cha said she was willing to allow greater scrutiny by lawmakers.

"Many overseas promotional bodies are also set up as private companies," Cha told lawmakers. "The council, however, will maintain a high level of transparency to let the public check the information on its directors while we will also provide annual financial reports to Legco."

Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, financial services lawmaker, said the council did not have many representatives from local small and medium-sized financial players.

Cha said some more sub-committees would be set up with smaller players as members. "The council will listen to the voices of all players, regardless of their size, on how to develop the financial industry in Hong Kong," she said.

Cha rejected speculation that the council would be run on the lines of Temasek, the Singapore government's investment arm.

"The Financial Services Development Council is an advisory body to promote Hong Kong's financial industry. We are not a regulator and not an investment company," Cha said.