Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considering petitioning the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority to extend the grace period for enrolment in the MPF scheme. A senior official of the SMEs trade union said the organisation was concerned that some members were not in a position to sign-up for the MPF scheme due to financial constraints brought on by the present economic climate. 'We'll continue to seek a longer grace period and put forward our suggestions to the Government,' said Phyllis Kwong, chairman of The Hong Kong Association of International Co-operation of Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME). Ms Kwong said the main problem for SMEs was that the implementation of the MPF scheme was pushed through too fast, even before the public was properly educated about it. She pointed out that during the initial drafting of the scheme the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce had proposed a three-year grace period for SMEs. 'Many of those who joined may not agree with the scheme but have no choice,' she said. Professor Henry Mok Tai-kee, head of the Department of Social Work at the Baptist University said that more than 80 per cent of SMEs would incur additional costs of over 3 per cent due to MPF. 'Businesses suffering due to [the] added burden from [the] MPF will close down and increase unemployment. That will defeat the purpose of long-term retirement protection and incur more expenses for the Government,' he said.