COMPILING the best annual report is no easy task, but the Mass Transit Railway Corporation found the key to success was providing 'transparent' and concise information. The MTRC, which secured a $34-billion bid to build a rail link to Chek Lap Kok Airport last year, won the overall prize in the Hong Kong Management Association's 1994 Best Annual Reports competition. The prize, for its 1992-93 report, put the public company back on top after being toppled last year by international conglomerate First Pacific. Although first prize was 'nothing new' to MTRC, it was a coveted trophy and recognition of a year of hard work, Roger Moss, the railway company's financial director, said. The company's four-year reign from 1989 to 1992, when it won the HKMA's top prizes, was briefly interrupted in 1993 when it had to be satisfied with the gold prize in the non-Hang Seng category. 'MTRC has been among the top winners for four years in the non-Hang Seng category, which many people find odd as we do have some bonds listed,' Mr Moss said. 'Although we are not listed on the Hang Seng and are 100 per cent owned by the Government, the company is still commercially oriented.' Transparency was the theme of the 1993 report, for which staff began compiling information in October 1992. It was published in April last year. Since it started submitting annual reports to the competition, the MTRC had chosen themes for each, Mr Moss said. 'Having a central theme can link various aspects of the report and gives customers an understanding of major events the corporation faces in the year,' he said. 'We chose transparency because we are a statutory body and need to be able to give our customers easy-to-understand information concisely. 'As a major provider of public transport in the urban area, it is MTRC's duty to give data to the Government, business and financial sectors, staff and the community.' High-quality annual reports attracted overseas investors, which was important to corporations such as MTRC that used foreign capital for projects like the airport rail link, Mr Moss said. The corporation had volunteered to give quarterly updates on the airport link so investors and the Government could see how money was spent, he said. Although this information was not included in the 1993 annual report, the report for 1994 would have a large section on the airport link. 'Many constituents are interested in financing for the airport rail link, management of the contract award and cost and engineering quality,' Mr Moss said. 'We are committed to regular information sharing on these matters and have recently volunteered to publish quarterly reports on the airport railway. 'Progress reports, including details about timing, cost, value for money and relationship to existing lines, will be included in the 1994 report.' This concise information, international accounting procedures, meaningful statistics and graphics gave MTRC's report a leading edge, Mr Moss said. An overview of the main issues, performance and prospects were included in a report by corporation chairman Hamish Mathers. 'In a review on performance, the MTRC tried to improve commentary on activities and prospects and each year we look to see if there is new information we can add,' Mr Moss said. 'In the 1993 annual report, we emphasised reporting on non-financial performance as well as giving a comprehensive analysis of our budget. 'Customer service targets, reliability of our product and their availability were main items.' The report also gave fare policy and projections, outlined details of a seven-year capital improvement programme and made pledges to customers on how the corporation would improve services. 'We have done a lot of work on the 1994 annual report, which is out in April,' said Mr Moss said. 'It was an important year . . . because we got agreement on the airport project. The community will, in a few years' time, be able to use the railway to get to the rest of the world.'