The Chamber may have a new look but expects the government to keep old deals. The deals of Tung and Tsang may be undone, undermining the business community’s confidence that consensus today will mean government commitment tomorrow.
The newly renovated HKGCC premises may have a wall celebrating their more than 150 years of history, but their Chairman was focused on reminding the government about more recent history and deals done.
Specifically, he called on the government to stick to the deal done between previous administrations and the business community, whereby the business community agreed to accept the MPF if they could offset the amount contributed to the MPF against long-term service payments. His tone was measured, but the concern for SMEs, in particular, is real.
“The understanding between the business community and the Government back then was that the [MPF] offset mechanism would be kept,” Mr Pang said. “Many SMEs have expressed concerns over the extra burden imposed on them.”
Shirley Yuen, the HKGCC’s CEO was also on hand to welcome guests and encouraged a consultative approach.
“Just like the retirement protection scheme, the Government should carry out a similar assessment on the economy should the mechanism be abolished instead of raising the issue without providing the public with any proposal,” Ms Yuen added.
Mr Pang also called on the Government to ensure a business-friendly environment in face of a shrinking retail industry toppled with further uncertainties including a possible increase of interest rate by the Federal Reserve.
Asked whether the Chamber would support CY Leung in seeking his second term in office given his past performance and the pro-business elements in the latest policy address, Mr Pang didn’t answer the question directly, but left little question over the HKGCC’s position. “I don’t think the policy address is very pro-business in particular. Many of our recommendations were also not included in it.”
The new office was officially opened on January 22, 2016, with its eighth Certification of Origin (CO) branch office started operating about two weeks in prior. Presiding over the housewarming ceremony were Financial Secretary John Tsang and Mr Pang alongside hundreds of members of the chamber and Consuls General.
According to Ms Yuen, about $10 million was spent on the renovation works which saw the office expand from around 11,000 sq ft to 17,000 sq ft and its entire ventilation system upgraded. New conference rooms have been made available for members to rent at discounted rates.