A committee led by the Financial Secretary has failed to create public confidence that it can handle complaints against unfair competition, lawmakers said yesterday. Legislators questioned whether the panel, chaired by Antony Leung Kam-chung, had any power to break business monopolies. The Competition Policy Advisory Group was established in 1998 amid pressure to legislate against unfair trade practices. A total of nine complaints were handled by the panel in 2000 to 2001. Only one case - against the Easy Pay System - was substantiated. The electronic transaction operator came under fire in April last year for charging 0.75 per cent of the value of a transaction instead of a flat $2 fee. The row prompted the Monetary Authority to launch a review of the retail payment service. At the Legco economic services panel meeting yesterday, Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, the Liberal Party vice-chairwoman who represents the retail and wholesale industries, said retailers were frustrated by the apparent lack of progress in rectifying the situation. 'This is a valid complaint. But nothing has been done for more than a year now,' she said. 'How can people have confidence in the complaints mechanism? Is this basically a toothless tiger?' Her concerns were echoed by unionist Lau Chin-shek, who said the limited number of complaints spoke for itself. 'There are only [a few] complaints. Is it because the committee lacks real power or is it a matter of insufficient publicity?' he asked. Secretary for Economic Services Sandra Lee Suk-yee rejected claims that the committee lacked power. She said it had been kept informed of the review and would urge the Monetary Authority to brief legislators on its position. She added the Government would not introduce unnecessary legislation to ensure fair competition. A spokesman for the authority said the outcome of the review was announced in August and found the retail payment system functioned well. However, a self-regulatory approach with a code of practice would be recommended to enhance transparency and competition.