Lawmakers have urged the government to explain its US$4.2 billion contribution to a regional financial co-operation scheme aimed at maintaining currency stability in East Asia. The Hong Kong government will seek approval from the Legislative Council's Finance Committee in the next few months for its commitment, which is part of China's US$38.4 billion contribution to the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation, a scheme of mutual assistance aimed at addressing short-term liquidity difficulties. The initiative was announced in a joint media statement of finance ministers of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and South Korea on May 3. However, there was no mention of it on the Hong Kong government website or that of the Monetary Authority. The finance ministers agreed to implement the scheme by the end of this year. Asked why the government did not issue a press statement on the US$4.2 billion contribution, the spokesman said the announcement by the finance ministers merely reflected an in-principle commitment of the countries concerned. 'Asean and the three countries are still discussing the legal documents ... and other operational details,' the spokesman said. 'The government needs to further consider the relevant details and finalise the funding approval process at a later stage.' Ronny Tong Ka-wah, deputy chairman of Legco's financial affairs panel, said the government should explain the commitment of public funds as soon as possible. 'The US$4.2 billion contribution is a hefty sum. I am disappointed that the government did not inform Legco and the public earlier,' Mr Tong said, adding that there was a lack of transparency in the disclosure of information. Mr Tong said he was not aware of the deal until he was approached by the South China Morning Post. Panel chairman Chan Kam-lam said the government needed to explain the details to Legco as soon as possible. The government spokesman said the scheme was an important regional financial initiative that would boost regional financial stability and help reduce the risk of shocks originating in the region spilling over to Hong Kong. 'Being an international financial centre, Hong Kong cannot afford to be left out of such an important initiative. The contribution amount of each member has been discussed and agreed among all members,' the spokesman said. He rejected a claim by commentator Philip Bowring, in the Post, that making the contribution as part of China's commitment had undermined Hong Kong's autonomy in financial affairs. The spokesman said Hong Kong was fully consulted by the central government on the contribution amount.