LEGISLATORS from across the political spectrum urged the setting up of a powerful body to promote investment and economic development. The organisation should lay down long-term economic strategy to enhance competitiveness and lure foreign investment. Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce representative Paul Cheng Ming-fun said efforts to promote investment in the territory were too fragmented and a more co-ordinated approach was needed. Existing channels to promote trade and investment in manufacturing missed some important areas such as promoting Hong Kong as a base for regional headquarters. 'We need to give urgent consideration to establishing a single, powerful and highly focused organisation to promote investment in Hong Kong across the board, and to fight for Hong Kong's market share in an increasingly competitive region and world.' Liberal Party legislator James Tien Pei-chun also called for a close partnership between the Government and business to boost the territory's industrial development. He said many Asian countries had followed the Japanese example in which the powerful Ministry of International Trade and Investment coached some companies to achieve excellence for the country's benefit. Mr Tien said the 'do nothing' policy must not continue. Other legislators were more specific on the establishment of an economic development council or committee. Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood member Dr Law Cheung-kwok said many advanced economies in the West set up such bodies to guide their development and maintain competitiveness. 'This is not the same as a planned economy as some officials have suggested,' Dr Law said. The body would not dictate development but would work with the private sector to identify the territory's advantages and derive plans to make full use of those benefits. Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan saw the setting up of such a body as a way of tackling economic problems including unemployment. Mr Lee said the committee, with a comprehensive economic strategy, could derive appropriate manpower training or retraining programmes for local workers to lessen the problem of structural unemployment. 'Wastage of talents could be minimised with a clear and workable economic strategy,' the unionist said. He said the body could be a tripartite structure comprising government representatives, employees and employers. Hong Kong Progressive Alliance legislator Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen also supported the idea of a economic development council and said it should be set up as a statutory body under the Governor. He said it could help lure foreign investment into the manufacturing sector to avoid over-dependence on the service sector. 'Manufacturing is the root of our society and we must upgrade it.' But Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong legislator Chan Yuen-han said economic development did not necessarily benefit workers because their real income had declined despite spectacular economic growth. Ms Chan urged the Government to use a more progressive tax policy to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth.