MAINLAND red tape is further tangling Hong Kong-Shenzhen traffic bottlenecks by blocking moves to open border crossings 24 hours a day, a leading businessman warns. Federation of Hong Kong Industries chairman Raymond Ch'ien Kuo-fung yesterday said: ''I've been told that the Government is prepared to pay . . . I've been assured by officials at very senior levels that the problem does not rest on the Hong Kong side. ''We've got governments not short of money . . . and it [extending the opening hours] can't cost that much. However, both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments needed the will to solve the problem. The greatest difficulty was that work on the Chinese side involved about 10 autonomous departments at national, provincial and municipal levels. ''The Chinese have more departments involved and there's not a strong efficient co-ordinating body that can make things happen easily,'' he said. The departments, including the authorities in charge of health inspection, public security, and the customs, had problems in settling who should pay the extra costs. ''And each department has their own say. So it's not easy,'' he said. And the Office of Ports and Harbours, which is supposed to be a co-ordinating body, had no teeth. ''It's more a talk shop than a policy implementation authority,'' Mr Ch'ien said. ''I think we should have the Office of Ports and Harbours to be more of a policy implementation body.'' He also called for simpler inspection procedures: ''We don't want counterfeiters or smugglers. Nonetheless, there is always a need for quicker inspection. Check-point traffic jams have already touched off a number of lorry driver strikes. If the problem were not solved, both Hong Kong and China faced ''tremendous economic wastage'', Mr Ch'ien said. ''Soon we'll become the laughing stock of the world [unless the border crossings are opened around the clock].'' His warning came amid growing dissatisfaction from local businessmen on border traffic congestion which impeded trade. The two cities would appear foolish not to make the best use of their economically important border crossings, Mr Ch'ien said. ''The Hong Kong-Shenzhen border is one of the most important border crossings, in terms of economic value, per mile,'' Mr Chi'en said. Border crossings such as Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau and Shataukok should be open 24 hours a day to enhance transportation of time-valued goods. There was serious traffic congestion at the Man Kam To crossing, he said, and the situation would deteriorate as economic activity between Hong Kong and southern China grew because of mainland demand for foreign capital. Opening the border around the clock would cut the waste in time and labour, he said. He drew on his own business as an example of the potential cost to Hong Kong. ''If this thing doesn't happen, a lot of my business operations in China will be in serious trouble in 18 months time, when I'll have plants [in China] for the Hong Kong market,'' said Mr Ch'ien, who is also group managing director of Lam Soon Hong Kong Group. He estimated that could cost his company alone ''tens of millions of dollars''.