True to his promise, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has swiftly set up a special taskforce to tackle the challenges posed by the global financial meltdown. But while the experience and expertise of most of its members are not in question, we should not expect it to offer a panacea. The government needs to be seen to be taking a proactive stance. The public, however, may reasonably be sceptical of what can be achieved by a committee of well-connected people. Governments the world over tend to set up expert taskforces in the face of serious crises as a substitute for real policy; Hong Kong is particularly adept at playing this game. Certainly the taskforce has high-quality members. Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, Chinese University's vice-chancellor, is a distinguished economist. Tycoon Victor Fung Kwok-king is a seasoned businessman and accomplished finance scholar. And Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley has been prescient in his many published analyses of the credit crisis and proposed solutions. The appointment of Mathias Woo Yan-wai, who is director of the avant-garde art group Zuni Icosahedron, is more surprising. Perhaps the idea is to channel his creativity and outside-the-box thinking into the taskforce. The credit crunch has evolved and will not be resolved quickly. Thousands of Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta businesses are being exposed because of the drying up of credit lines. The crisis has been inflicting damage on the world economy in a way which is unprecedented since the Great Depression. Though major central banks and finance officials have successfully thrown a cordon around their banks to protect the system from collapse, the process of deleveraging continues. This has resulted in terrifying plunges in asset values and has shocked policymakers in Hong Kong and elsewhere. The new taskforce's mandate is to help better understand the crisis, consider ways to respond to it, identify opportunities and enhance the city's competitiveness. But, to be effective, taskforce members need to react quickly to new problems as they arise and offer counter-measures. They need to think outside the box. To this end, the taskforce should be flexible in securing outside expert help and meet regularly. Above all, it must avoid 'white elephant' projects such as Cyberport as well as the sort of ill-conceived economic policies seen during the Tung Chee-hwa era. What we need are innovative fiscal measures and policies which will spur growth. But the road ahead is perhaps not as grim as it looks. Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday Hong Kong could rely on the mainland for support. The nation's growth rate will slow, but is still forecast to be in the high-end of single-digit growth, which will provide a cushion for Hong Kong. With planning, foresight and confidence, our community may yet come through this great economic contraction in relatively good shape.