It is harder doing business in Hong Kong now than five years ago, according to a survey conducted by the Liberal Party. Results showed more than 70 per cent of respondents considered the investment environment worse than in 1991. About 70 per cent said they would consider transferring funds overseas. More than 1,300 operators in the business sector were interviewed in the survey conducted between July and September. Its release yesterday came a day after Governor Chris Patten rejected criticism by some of the territory's business leaders that Hong Kong's competitiveness had declined. Mr Patten said the Government did not need to bring in new measures to allow the territory to compete better in the regional and world economy. Most respondents said the central reasons for the declining business environment were increased operating costs, market competition and the general slowdown in the economy. When asked which factor was most responsible, 858 respondents said 'increased operation costs', and 663 'the slowing down of the economy' while 403 cited government inaction on stimulating the economy. Liberal Party legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee accused the Government of failing to provide a comprehensive and flexible environment for investors. Party economic affairs spokesman Tong Ying-nin said stimulating the economy did not necessarily mean radical measures. 'The Government should try its best to build up a business-friendly environment, to create chances for our businessmen to grasp,' Mr Tong said. The party urged the Government to review its policies to retain the territory's business advantages.