A PATTEN view of Hong Kong as a tough but fair commercial centre emerged from the speech yesterday, but business still felt left out, compared to the top billing it took last year. This time, it complained, Mr Patten's priorities were dominated by politics and social issues. Nor did those mentions business get reveal enough to draw firm conclusions on where the Government was ready to take the economy. What numbers there were in the speech revealed nothing about any serious new initiatives the Government might be preparing to keep the economy bubbling in the light of any Chinese-driven turndown. Nor, to the disappointment of businessmen, were there any indications that the tax burden on corporations would be lightened, land supply eased or that the Government was taking inflation as seriously as some of the local industry groups. Two subjects covered by Mr Patten, on which he promised further moves later, were retirement schemes for workers, and studies on competition in Hong Kong. If the speech was lighter on details than last year's effort, at least it was followed by the publication of a score card on progress during the past 12 months. According to the Government's system of marking, it has gone a long way to meet Mr Patten's pledges. It patted itself on the back for keeping public expenditure in line with GDP growth, easing the labour shortage through the labour importation scheme, clamping down on speculation in residential property, and stabilising inflation. Where it lost marks was in failing to keep to its time-table for the implementation of a $78 billion programme of public works by 1997, with the delays in negotiations on some projects taking part of the blame. Mr Patten also re-emphasised the need for Hong Kong to become more competitive, but received no applause for this from the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, which also complained business took a back seat in the speech. ''We felt the address was imbalanced, with the focus on political and social issues, with very little said on the many important business issues facing the territory,'' chamber chairman Paul Cheng said. If the Governor was serious about competition, he should think about the territory's competitive position in the region, and do something about high inflation, tight labour and rising property purchase and rental costs, Mr Cheng said. The Chinese Manufacturers' Association was also as concerned with the gaps as with the substance. ''The Governor only pointed out that the inflation in Hong Kong has eased but did not mention any action in coping with the possible high inflation arising from the commencement of large infrastructural projects,'' it said. How Mr Patten intends to make Hong Kong more competitive within itself, if not with its regional rivals, will be closely watched. Nothing more so than the industry specific competition policy studies which the Consumer Council has been carrying out. With banking, broadcasting, gas and telecommunications all targeted - and in which monopolies, or duopolies, reign - whether this might mean an eventual strike at the heart of Hong Kong's cartel system was not revealed by the Governor. At least the speech produced a clue about the high powered Business Council which was set up last year, but of which little has been heard since. It was revealed that it has met six times, and given advice on competition policy, labour shortages, the 1993/1994 Budget and Most Favoured Nation issues.