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Government's efforts in company law reform lauded

The following is issued on behalf of the Business Facilitation Advisory Committee Secretariat:

     The Administration today (November 26) briefed the Business Facilitation Advisory Committee on the new Companies Ordinance. The committee welcomed the new law, which reinforces Hong Kong's position as a world-class place to do business and provides a modernised legal framework for the incorporation and operation of companies in Hong Kong.

     The committee reviewed the work of its three task forces. Some notable progress/developments are:

(a) The Wholesale and Retail Task Force (WRTF) appreciated the publicity and promotion efforts of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) to ensure smooth implementation of the Food Safety Ordinance. The WRTF also supported the CFS' risk-based inspection approach and incremental tightening of enforcement strategy;

(b) The WRTF supported the implementation of the composite food shop licence and the fast-track procedures for new issue of the provisional food factory licence for reheating of pre-cooked sausages, meat and other food products, which are relevant to the food retail trade. The WRTF encouraged the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to periodically review the food business licensing regime with a view to assisting the trade in obtaining licences;

(c) The WRTF supported the draft revised Code of Practice for Authorised Seller of Poisons under consultation and had provided comments to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board for their consideration whether there was room to relax the requirements on water sinks, refrigerators and apparatus for extemporaneous dispensing for pharmacies without compromising public health;

(d) The WRTF and the Food Business and Related Services Task Force (FRSTF) welcomed the FEHD's plan to accept online submission of food business licence applications in early 2013;

(e) The FRSTF appreciated that the FEHD had recently enhanced the Licensing Management Information System to implement the proposed issue of letters of requirements in seven working days as a service pledge upon full clearance on the applications for layout alteration from all departments concerned;

(f) The FEHD briefed the FRSTF on the common reasons for rejection of food business licence applications and advised the trade to make necessary pre-submission preparation to avoid abortive applications;

(g) The Task Force on Business Liaison Groups (BLGTF) appreciated that the FEHD had further streamlined the fast-track application process for live broadcasting at licensed cinemas and shortened the processing time from eight working days to four working days for a straightforward application;

(h) To facilitate the business of family amusement centres, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) now offers pre-submission enquiry service for notification of change in use of approved games of amusement with prizes. The department is also redesigning the related form to make it more user-friendly; and

(i) The BLGTF appreciated that the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had further streamlined the application process for extension of business hours for billiard establishments, public bowling alleys and public skating rinks. The department now accepts the trade's applications for extension of business hours on an annual basis, and grants approval every six months.

     The committee was pleased that bureaux and departments had sustained momentum in enhancing their business licensing services to assist different trades in doing business under the "Be the Smart Regulator" Programme. Major progress is highlighted below:

(a) Hong Kong remains the second easiest place to do business in the world according to the World Bank's "Doing Business 2013" report released on October 23 this year. The Government will continue to explore ways to improve the business environment by partnering with the business sector and reforming the existing regulatory regimes to ensure that regulation is appropriate;

(b) The Highways Department has enhanced its Excavation Permit Management System to allow applicants to track the progress of their applications for excavation permits online;

(c) The FEHD processes new applications for food business licences and the cancellation of existing licences of the same premises in parallel to avoid potential delays due to failure of existing licensees to request the department to cancel their licences. If the new applicant can produce the latest tenancy agreement signed by the landlord and the existing licensee is no longer carrying on or unable to resume the business at the premises, the time for cancellation of existing licences can be further shortened by a maximum of 14 calendar days;

(d) From the third quarter of this year, the HAD has strengthened its enforcement action to deter illegal operation of unlicensed hotels and guesthouses by passing information on convicted cases to relevant law enforcement agencies and other related organisations (such as the Inland Revenue Department, the Rating and Valuation Department, mortgage banks or monetary institutions, property owners, owners' corporations, management offices of the buildings, etc) for necessary follow-up; and

(e) As directed by the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Efficiency Unit is conducting a comprehensive review of business licensing services and support services for small and medium enterprises.

     Papers for the committee meeting will be available at for public access.

Ends/Monday, November 26, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:42


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