LegCo Panel on Trade and Industry
Business & Services Promotion


This paper briefs Members on the Government’s Helping Business and Services Promotion Programmes. It also reports the plan to establish a Business & Services Promotion Unit in the Offices of the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary in early 1997-98.

Helping Business Programme

2. The Helping Business Programme was launched in March 1996 under the aegis of a Task Force led by the Secretary for the Treasury, supported by the Efficiency Unit. Phase I centred around seven pilot studies which were completed on schedule by the end of November 1996. Members were briefed on progress of implementation in December 1996.

3. Phase II will build on the momentum generated in Phase I and expand the programme. The programme development work will cover the following issues -

  1. Central co-ordination - we intend to establish a new Business and Services Promotion Unit in April/May 1997 to, inter alia, co-ordinate the Helping Business Programme. Meanwhile, a small preparatory team has been established on a supernumerary basis to maintain momentum;
  2. Stock-taking of Regulatory Activities - the Management Services Agency is working on the database of regulatory activities;
  3. Structured Consultation Channel - the Business Advisory Group (BAG) was formed on 1 December 1996. The BAG established three sub-groups in February 1997 to take forward work in the specific areas of deregulation, cost of compliance assessment and transfer of services to the business sector. The three sub-groups have all met and started work. The Terms of Reference of BAG, its membership, and Terms of Reference of the three sub-groups, are at Enclosures 1 - 3.
  4. Helping Business Culture - we plan to organise a service-wide conference and a series of seminars later this year to promote development of a helping business culture within the civil service;
  5. Cost of Compliance Assessment - we have completed one pilot study, and begun a second, to assess the costs to business of complying with regulatory measures and of the associated benefits to the community. Because this is a new area of work, we plan to take on a third pilot; and
  6. Departmental Appraisal & Regulatory Activities - we shall develop guidelines to help departments conduct internal appraisal. The guidelines will help departments produce internal helping business implementation plans to form the basis for Phase III.

4. We have also begun to undertake a number of other studies. These include a review of public forms currently in use, hotel and guesthouse licensing, entertainment licensing and consent to sale of uncompleted properties. When these studies are completed, we shall work with the departments concerned to implement the findings. We shall also undertake further studies.

Promotion of Services

5. Hong Kong is now a service-oriented economy, with 83.8% of our GDP coming from services in 1995. Even excluding the public sector, the share in 1995 was a relatively high 72.8%. In absolute terms the value-added contribution of the services sector to GDP reached $854 billion in 1995, $61 billion more than 1994 and representing an almost four-fold increases over 1985. The services sector is also our principal source of employment. The share of the services sector in total employment has increased markedly over the past decade, from 55.2% in 1986 to 78.7% in 1996. Three out of four employed workers in the labour force were engaged in the services sector in 1996.

6. In August 1995, the Financial Secretary established a Task Force to gain a better understanding of what was happening to Hong Kong’s economy and boost awareness both within the Government and the wider community so that we could better prepare ourselves for the future. The Task Force was advised by an Ad Hoc Group of non-Government members and serviced by the Trade & Industry Branch.

7. The Task Force has finished its work, and published its Final Report on 12 March together with the 1997-98 Budget. The Report includes an update of the progress of implementation of the 71 Policy Directions promulgated in the 1996-97 Budget Addendum. It also sets out further initiatives to strengthen the eight key components around which the Government’s support for Hong Kong’s services sector has been and will continue to be built, as well as a further 56 Policy Directions to be pursued in support of 14 leading service industries.

8. Up until early 1997, the Government’s services promotion efforts were co-ordinated by the Trade & Industry Branch. While this arrangement was acceptable for the initial stages of work, it is inadequate for the long term. Because the services sector involves many different Policy areas, there is a need for effective co-ordination. The Task Force considered that a dedicated unit should be established within the Government Secretariat for the purpose and that its head should report directly to the Financial Secretary.

9. The Administration has been considering what form of more permanent arrangement should replace the Task Force and the Ad Hoc Group, and has decided to establish a Services Promotion Strategy Group. The Terms of Reference and Membership of SPSG are at Enclosure 4. It will hold its first meeting on 25 April.

Business & Services Promotion Unit

10. Given that both the Services Promotion and Business Promotion Programmes are of importance to our economic development and are of direct relevance to the business community, the Government plans to put both functions under the proposed new Business & Services Promotion Unit (BSPU) to be set up within the Financial Secretary’s Office.

11. The new BSPU will be lean and small in structure. it will have three Directorate officers (one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1, one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C, and one Principal Management Services Officer) and a small support team of 13 officers comprising one Senior Administrative Officer, one Chief Management Services Officer, two Chief Executive Officers, two Executive Officers I, two Clerical Officers II and five Personal Secretaries of various ranks.

Offices of the Chief Secretary & the Financial Secretary
Government Secretariat
April 1997

Enclosure 1

Business Advisory Group -- Terms of Reference

1. Having regard to the aims of the Helping Business Programme, to

- cut red tape and eliminate over regulation;

- reduce cost of compliance to business sector and cost of enforcement to Government;

- transfer services out of the public sector to the business sector where appropriate market conditions prevail; and

- improve existing services and introduce new services;

to advise the Financial Secretary on the development and implementation of the Helping Business Programme as they might affect the business sector.

2. To identify problems and difficulties encountered by the business sector in the Government’s regulatory or service functions and make recommendations to the Financial Secretary on improvements or solutions.

Enclosure 2

Business Advisory Group -- Membership

-- Membership

Chairman :

Financial Secretary

Members :

Mr Martin Barrow

Mr Peter Greenwood

Mr Thomas Kwok

Dr Harry Lee

Mr Alan Lee Yiu-kwong

Mr Victor Li Tzar-kuoi

Mr Lo Yuk-sui

Mr Lo Foo-cheung

Mr Hubert Ng Ching-wah

Mr Dennis Pedini

Mr Michael Tien

Secretary for Economic Services

Secretary for Financial Services

Secretary for Planning, Environment & Lands

Secretary for Trade & Industry

Secretary for the Treasury

Director, Business & Services Promotion Unit

Enclosure 3

Terms of Reference of the BAG Sub-groups

1. Sub-group to oversee cutting red tape and elimination of over regulation (Chairman : Mr Martin Barrow)

Having regard to the overall aims of the Helping Business Programme, to -

- develop a programme to eliminate over regulation, reduce red tape, including the possibility of intra- and inter-departmental co-ordination within Government, so as to improve on services to the business sector and to improve the environment within which businesses operate;

- agree an action plan for the development and implementation of that programme;

- monitor the development and implementation of the programme; and

- report progress to Business Advisory Group on a regular basis.

2. Sub-group to oversee reduction of cost of compliance

(Chairman : Dr Harry Lee)

Having regard to the overall aims of the Helping Business Programme, to -

- monitor progress and review results of the pilot studies on the assessment of cost of compliance and socio-economic benefits of regulatory measures, and commission new studies if necessary;

- commission studies on how to reduce cost of compliance and develop a programme within Government to reduce it;

- agree an action plan for the development and implementation of that programme;

- monitor the development and implementation of the programme; and

- report progress to Business Advisory Group on a regular basis.

3. Sub-group to oversee transfer of public services

(Chairman : Mr Michael Tien)

Having regard to the overall aims of the Helping Business Programme, to -

- identify government services which are appropriate for transfer to bodies outside government, including quasi-government agencies and the business sector;

- develop a programme for the transfer of those services and agree an action plan for its implementation;

- monitor the development and implementation of the programme and conduct post-implementation reviews; and

- report progress to Business Advisory Group on a regular basis.

Enclosure 4

Services Promotion Strategy Group

Terms of Reference

To advise the Financial Secretary on matters relating to the development of Hong Kong as a service economy and as the pre-eminent services centre in Asia.


Mr Donald Tsang, Financial Secretary (Chairman)

Prof Edward Chen

Mr Henry Cheng

Mr Linus Cheung

Mr Henry Fan

Mr Kenneth Fang

Mr Canning Fok

Dr Victor Fung

Mr Denis Lee

Mr Y S Lo

Mr Mark Michelson

Mr Brian Stevenson

Mr Tam Yiu Chung

Mr Henry Tang

Secretary for Economic Services

Secretary for Financial Services

Secretary for Education & Manpower

Secretary for Trade & Industry

Director of Information Services

Director, Business & Services Promotion Unit (Secretary)

Last Updated on 21 August 1998