Finance chiefs are urging critics of the controversial corporate rescue bill to at least give the proposed law a chance, saying they cannot please everybody. 'This is an issue where there cannot be any consensus,' said Deputy Secretary for Financial Affairs Susie Ho Shuk-yee yesterday, following an attack on the bill by lawmakers, academics and insolvency experts. Critics have slated the bill as unworkable, ineffective and unusable because it requires companies considering provisional supervision to pay off all liabilities to employees before a rescue can take place. The bill intends to give breathing space to flagging firms to find a lifeline by staving off winding-up petitions for at least 30 days. It incurred the wrath of critics when initially tabled in the Legislative Council last year, forcing it to be dropped from the legislation list and sent back to the drawing board. The requirement to settle outstanding debts to workers was panned as the death knell of any corporate rescue. Companies struggling to survive will be unable to find the cash, critics claim. Moreover, they fear banks would think twice about funding a rescue if the money was not being injected into the firm. Ms Ho said: 'The present structure may not be able to please everybody. But why not have a start? We will see whether workers' wages account for a large or small share of liabilities.' The rights of workers was a sensitive issue, she said. Labour groups were unwilling to erode any rights to compensation under the proposed bill. They had also rejected more flexible options, such as deferring payments to employees if a rescue was to get under way, or share options. The Government realised fewer companies might benefit from the rescue procedures if workers had to be paid in full. The question of numbers was, however, 'difficult'. 'It depends on the economic situation and the governance of companies,' Ms Ho said. The law would at least provide a framework. 'I would very much like to see the framework in place and modify it from then on,' Ms Ho said. 'There is no point arguing whether employees should be protected and so on . . . just let it [the bill] go there first, make a start.' The bill would be introduced into the Legislative Council by the end of this session. She hoped it would be enacted next year. Financial Affairs panel member James To Kun-sun pointed out that the bill would be even less likely to be passed if it did not provide for employees' compensation. 'At least there may be some companies still workable according to this formula,' he said.