PREPARATIONS for the Mandatory Provident Fund are going ahead although there is no guarantee the Legislative Council will approve subsidiary legislation needed to implement it. The primary legislation, containing the basic elements of the controversial scheme, was passed in July. At yesterday's meeting of the Legco financial affairs panel, Secretary for Financial Services Rafael Hui Si-yan said an office to draw up the detailed arrangements for the scheme was to be set up early next year. The Government would commission consultants to help draft the complex subsidiary legislation. Mr Hui said officials would ask the Finance Committee for $22 million at the end of the month to pay the consultants, enough to keep the office running until the end of next year. The office would last until the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority was set up. Democratic Party legislator Martin Lee Chu-ming said his party still objected to the scheme in principle. But Mr Hui said: 'We just don't want to waste the time now and stop preparing for the scheme.' Another Democrat, Sin Chung-kai, asked what the Government would do if the Legco Finance Committee failed to approve the funding request. Mr Hui said he remained optimistic, and the Government had no contingency plans. 'I think Hong Kong's status as a world financial centre would be affected in the international community if we stop going ahead with the scheme,' he said. Also at yesterday's meeting, Deputy Secretary for the Treasury Michael Rowse said the Auditor's Report had criticised the Government for failing to increase the Cargo Work Areas fees fast enough. It came after legislators voted to freeze the charge last month because of the economic downturn. Mr Rowse said Secretary for the Treasury Kwong Ki-chi looked forward to the Legco Public Accounts Committee hearing, saying: 'I can assure you he will not be on the defensive.'