The government should free the ICAC from handling election corruption complaints as most cases were minor or just involved a technical breach of regulations, the advisory body that monitors the anti-graft agency's operation said. Michael Sze Cho-cheung, the chairman of the Operation Review Committee, yesterday questioned whether it was an effective use of resources in having the Independent Commission Against Corruption as an election watchdog. 'Are we using a sledgehammer to crack a nut?' Sze said. The investigation of election complaints should be conducted by a tribunal or an administration instead of by a law enforcement agency, he said. This would free the ICAC for more important cases, he added. The ICAC investigates cases referred by the election commission and the police and it handled 1,887 cases in the past three years. 'Many of these election complaints were minor and technical in nature,' Sze said. Some were mathematical errors involving HK$2 of the candidate's expense statement, he said. The advisory body has started discussing the issue with the government but expects it will take a while to resolve it. Sze said the ICAC should not be relieved of the responsibility immediately as the community had more trust in the agency doing it. The ICAC ensured such investigations were impartial. Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said it was worth exploring a simple way to deal with election-related complaints as many cases were obviously trivial and could be handled by the election commission instead of the ICAC. 'What we are concerned about is that some controversial cases did not involve money and there was no need to transfer them to the ICAC, but the election commission did not take proper action for an investigation,' Ho said. Meanwhile, the number of corruption reports rose 2 per cent last year amid the global financial crisis. The ICAC received 3,450 reports last year, compared with 3,377 in 2008. The number of reports involving the government sector rose to 1,061 from 960 in 2008; those from the private sector fell to 2,183 from 2,188.