The Hospital Authority's retirement scheme lost 15 per cent in investment returns last year, legislators were told yesterday. In a written reply to a question by the legislator for the health services sector, Michael Mak Kwok-fung, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong said the investment return for the Hospital Authority Provident Fund Scheme fell by nearly a quarter of a percentage point in the financial year 2001-02 and by 14.48 per cent in 2002-03. 'The negative return of the scheme in 2001-02 and 2002-03 can largely be attributed to the poor performance of the global equity markets,' Dr Yeoh said. Equity returns in all developed markets fell by 3.88 per cent in 2001-02 and 23.96 per cent in 2002-03, he said. But Dr Yeoh said that the authority's provident fund over the past 10 years had recorded an average rate of return of 6.04 per cent a year. He said the rates of return of Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes with a comparable asset split of 70 per cent in equities and 30 per cent in bonds and cash to that of the Hospital Authority scheme were minus 14.7 per cent in 2001-02 and minus 10.3 per cent in 2002-03. Mr Mak told the South China Morning Post that many of his constituents were 'angry and disappointed to see such a large investment loss in their provident fund'. 'The HA Provident Fund Scheme contains billions of dollars so it meant a lot of money was lost last year, considering that provident fund schemes elsewhere are not doing so badly,' the legislator said. Seventeen investment managers are handling the assets of the provident fund scheme, which is managed by a board of trustees. The authority is Hong Kong's largest employer outside the civil service, with 37,000 staff. In 1997, its provident fund had assets of about US$700 million. There was no information on its current assets.