The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) initially will cost about $60 million per week to run, according to confidential calculations by a leading firm of actuaries. They estimate that by 2017 - with projected membership of six million and an assumed $1.1 trillion under management - the weekly cost will rise to $500 million of today's dollars. Pension experts close to the scheme said the costs are 'slightly high, but not unreasonable' by international standards. The $60 million weekly bill takes account of the $5 billion contribution from the Government for the MPF Authority amortised over 20 years, plus fund management, custodial and trustee fees of 1.6 to 2.4 per cent a year. According to the estimates, the cost per member each year in the early years will be $1,200 rising to about $4,300 by 2017. The amounts are based on data provided by the Government with calculations undertaken by an actuarial firm, which asked not to be named. A Government spokesman said controlling costs and security of the assets was central to the scheme's administration. 'It has been designed to encourage price competition between fund managers, trustees and custodians,' he said. 'As the pool of money increases, it is expected that lower management fees will be negotiated.' Ronald Arculli, a legislative council member and chairman of the subcommittee on the MPF, yesterday said it was uncertain whether the scheme's subsidiary legislation could be passed before the handover. Mr Arculli, speaking at a Hong Kong Retirement Scheme Association lunch, said the Provisional Legislature's intentions for the legislation were unknown. 'The signals are not very clear,' he said. Mr Arculli believes mainland authorities favour the scheme but have genuine concerns about the cost. Mr Arculli hopes the MPF Authority will be run by the private sector rather than by the Government. 'If you want efficiency and good people then you should have something like the Securities and Futures Commission or the Hong Kong Monetary Authority who are lean, mean and know their area.' He was concerned the Government might 'run amuck' and over-staff the authority. 'We will have to be alert. If it is run on Governmental lines then it does tend to overlay their management. If it does, it will be the scheme members who have to pay.'