Senior executives feel the Government has increasingly been intervening in the economy. 'Tung Chee-hwa's housing plan may have given the business sector an impression that he is overbearing,' said Professor Richard Ho Yan-ki, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute. The institute concluded that its Free Market Index, which aims to measure changes in market freedom since the handover, fell slightly to 99.38 last December from 100 last June. Professor Ho said the institute found overall market freedom had not changed despite the Asian financial turmoil. However, of 239 senior executives surveyed in various sectors, the index of how they felt about the degree of government influence rose from 100 to 106. Professor Ho said the finding did not indicate government intervention had increased. He said bankers might have attributed rocketing inter-bank interest rates to the intervention of the Monetary Authority. He noted that government gestures such as setting up a taskforce on unemployment to stimulate the economy, might also be interpreted by the business sector as an intervention. Professor Ho said the index would act as an alarm for the Chief Executive to consider whether there was too much government influence. Foreign investors, who were already showing more prudence in the aftermath of the currency turmoil, would be discouraged from injecting money into Hong Kong if this perception became stronger, he said. Professor Ho suggested that Mr Tung adjust his housing target and revert to a more market-oriented approach.