Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority chairman Charles Lee Yeh-kwong has rejected calls for contributions to be frozen for a year to ease the burden on employees during the economic downturn. Mr Lee, a member of the Executive Council, said such a move would be 'totally unacceptable' and would not bring real benefits to the community. He is the first senior figure to publicly reject the suggestion, which was made by the Liberal Party and some commentators. 'Any suggestion of suspension will send a wrong signal that the Government is not committed to the system, and thus create uncertainties,' he said. He said that if the MPF were suspended for a year, employees would save less money for their retirement, which would create a serious social problem with a rapidly ageing population. By 2029, 20 per cent of Hong Kong's population will be past 65 years old, compared with the present 10 per cent. Suspension of the MPF could mean savings would not support retirees in the future, and that the next generation may need to pay more taxes. 'This would shift the burden to our future generations, which I think is irresponsible,' Mr Lee said. 'Many of the MPF services providers are international financial institutions. Hong Kong's image as an international financial centre will be tarnished.'