Researchers for the Free Market Index, which will track the territory's economic conditions, declined to be drawn yesterday on how the index should be interpreted. The Hong Kong Policy Research Institute's chief executive, Jane Lee Ching-yee, said at yesterday's formal launch that the index will be compiled from next month, with a report completed by the end of the year. 'It is important to have an objective and regular monitor of the level of market freedom in Hong Kong,' she said. But Ms Lee declined to say whether a decline in the index would mean Hong Kong's economic freedom was being curtailed. 'I am not able to offer an answer at the moment as we have not got the data yet,' she said. 'When we have all the data, we will be able to give you an answer.' Cyril Chow Chi-kin, research director, said the index differed from those compiled by other think-tanks which compared countries. The index will be determined by seven factors which carry equal weight: government involvement and intervention, government regulation, mobility of production resources, price flexibility, information flow and market competition. As well as quantitative data, the institute will also incorporate views gathered from interviews with 300 to 400 entrepreneurs from six major industries. An International Advisory Board will include former US ambassador to China James Lilley, Executive Councillor Edward Chen Kwan-yiu, and government economist Tang Kwong-yiu. Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa, who attended yesterday's launch, spoke in praise of the institute's efforts. The institute is headed by his special adviser, Paul Yip Kwok-wah. Mr Tung said it was absolutely essential to maintain the free market in Hong Kong. 'We hope the index will show that the Hong Kong market will retain its high level of free market status after the return of Hong Kong to China.'