There were warnings last night that the long-awaited Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme could be further delayed unless there are government concessions. Although an amendment bill on the scheme was passed by legislators, some said the Government would have to give more ground to guarantee their support for subsidiary legislation. The main fund ordinance was passed in principle in 1995, but the complex nature of the issue has hampered its progress. The amendment bill went through last night after the fund composition was passed by a vote of 28-24. Its passage came after the Government shelved its original plan for the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority to be run by an all-powerful chief executive. Instead, officials accepted legislators' calls for the authority to be run by a board of at least 10 directors, including employers' and employees' representatives, to boost its checks and balances. Subsidiary legislation on the scheme's investment regulations and operational requirements has to be passed by April 1 if the fund is to have any chance of being implemented by next year. But several members said last night they would be demanding amendments to the subsidiary legislation before they supported it. Chan Yuen-han of the Federation of Trade Unions said: 'After the financial crisis, there is a need to tighten up the investment regulations to ensure employee's contributions are not at risk.' She wanted the Government to increase the Hong Kong dollar investment in the fund from 30 per cent to 50 per cent and restrict investments in volatile stock markets from 100 per cent to 50 per cent. Chan Kam-lam of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said: 'The MPF has had a lot of setbacks, but we would urge the Government to amend the subsidiary legislation to improve the overall plan.' The Government wants to start the scheme, which covers a working population of three million people, next year. About 2.2 million workers are not covered by any retirement scheme. Companies which do not have a pension scheme yet need to set up a MPF retirement scheme. Both employers and employees need to contribute five per cent of the employee's salary up to a maximum salary of $20,000. The self-employed also need to join a scheme and contribute five per cent of their salary. The Hong Kong Investment Fund Association pension subcommittee chairman Desmond Chan Kwok-kit said they would lobby legislators in the next few weeks for more relaxed investment regulations to help fund managers achieve a better return. 'We would like to explain that the more restrictions on the investment guideline, the poorer returns will be. The MPF fund could have returns if fund managers are allowed to freely invest,' he said. The director of the Mandatory Provident Fund Office, Pamela Tan Kam Mi-wah, was happy the amendment bill was passed. 'This is a very important step because now we can proceed to enact the subsidiary legislation and, after that, we will establish the MPF authority and take steps to implement the scheme,' she said. Secretary for the Financial Services Rafael Hui Si-yan said: 'The amendment met legislators' demands. It will ensure the MPFA is operated in an effective and transparent way.'