Three ministers have been criticised by an executive councillor for their lukewarm response to the tax-free industrial zone proposed by tycoon Li Ka-shing. Tsang Yok-sing yesterday blasted Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, Commerce, Industry and Technology chief John Tsang Chun-wah and labour chief Stephen Ip Shu-kwan for not being proactive enough to pursue the idea in the past. In an about-face for the administration on Friday, Mr Tang clarified the government's position, saying projects conducive to employment and the economy would be seriously considered. His statement came after John Tsang last week dismissed Mr Li's proposal because of its high development costs and the lack of benefit for industry. Speaking on the RTHK programme Letter to Hong Kong, Mr Tsang, also party leader of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, criticised Mr Tang for not being enthusiastic when he was trade minister. 'Mr Tang did not reject [the idea] right away. Perhaps with an industrial background, Mr Tang felt he should show some respect. But he did not make any commitment,' he said. The labour minister also came under attack from Mr Tsang for his lack of effort to pull industry and trade unions into an agreement on the importation of foreign labour, without which the industrial zone could not be implemented. 'Mr Ip stressed that an agreement should be reached before the government would take the idea forward. As no such agreement has materialised, the government contentedly sits back and waits,' he said. He said the government should not dismiss the proposal without carrying out an in-depth study. Mr Li said he had suggested to President Hu Jintao that a special tax-free industrial zone be established at the border to lure back Hong Kong manufacturers who had shifted their business to the mainland.