THE Democratic Party's proposal to set up a central provident fund is expected to be ready for public consultation by the summer. The party had said it would speed up work on putting forward a private member's bill on the fund after the Government abandoned its proposed old age pension scheme last month. The Government has repeatedly said it will not consider the establishment of such a fund. However, party legislator Yeung Sum said: 'As retirement protection is a very important issue, we've planned to consult the public on our bill probably this summer . . . and when we are going to table the bill will depend on the consultation.' Another party legislator Michael Ho Mun-ka said the party might not want to table the bill before the end of this legislative year in July. 'If we table the bill this year but fail to get it passed this year, the bill will be wasted because the new legislative term will start in October,' he said. The party's bill sees a central provident fund as the best way to provide comprehensive protection for the elderly. Mr Ho said the Government should play an active role. 'Under our proposal, the Government would be responsible for putting the necessary legislation in place for the setting up of a statutory body to monitor the operations of the scheme,' he said. 'The Government should also be responsible for injecting financial resources to the scheme when it became necessary.' However, under the standing orders of the lawmaking body, proposals in a private member's bill cannot have financial implications for the public coffers. Mr Ho said the party would try to overcome the 'technical difficulties' and avoid financial implications. Mr Yeung said the scheme proposed by the party would be self-financing and the administrative cost would be covered by the contributions made by the employers and employees. Major political parties will meet today in an effort to come up with an agreement on retirement protection. The meeting was initiated by the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB). DAB legislator Tam Yiu-chung hoped that the parties could reach a consensus at the meeting. However, Mr Yeung said he was not optimistic.