Endless consultations are causing the city to lag behind, industry leaders say Hong Kong might lag behind most developed cities in information and communication technology if the government continues to conduct 'endless' consultations instead of implementing specific policies, industry leaders said yesterday. The criticism came as the government started its latest round of consultation on its updated Digital 21 Strategy, first released in 1998 as a blueprint for developing information and communication technology in Hong Kong. The strategy is updated every three years and goes through a two-month consultation each time. Internet Service Providers Association chairman York Mok Sui-wah said the city was lagging behind regional competitors such as Singapore and Taipei in such development, despite Hong Kong having 66 per cent penetration in the broadband market. 'The endless consultation has made us lag behind,' he said. Deputy government chief information officer Linda So Ka-pik said the strategy for next year would encourage discussion in five areas - facilitating a digital economy, promoting advanced technology and innovation, developing the city as a technology and trade hub, updating electronic public services and building an inclusive, knowledge-based society. Chief information officer Howard Dickson said the draft was not a proposal with specific details for consultation. 'The strategy is not an exercise of saying, 'this is the commitment, this is the dollars and this is the date,'' he said. 'This is to facilitate discussion [on] what the barriers are.' Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Joseph Wong Wing-ping said the new draft of the strategy was 'to ensure Hong Kong becomes a leading digital city in the region'. But Internet Society chairman Charles Mok Nai-kwong said it illustrated the government's culture of conducting consultation, which was rooted in a problem of governance. 'They are always afraid of the outcome if they introduce new policies,' he said. 'I think the new strategy has the right thing to say, but no plans on how to do it right.' Under the section on 'building an inclusive, knowledge-based society', the draft says the vision is to 'make broadband internet access available to all citizens in Hong Kong' without outlining how that would be achieved. The only firm proposal in the document was the adoption of electronic procurement and electronic document management, with pilot tests slated for several agencies in the next financial year. The consultation of the updated strategy can be downloaded from www.digital21.gov.hk .