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Efforts to improve corporate insolvency law lauded

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

     The Business Facilitation Advisory Committee held its 23rd meeting today (July 18).

     The committee welcomes the Government's legislative proposals to improve Hong Kong's corporate insolvency law, which would facilitate more efficient administration of the winding-up process and increase protection of creditors.

     The Fire Services Department briefed the committee on the key findings and recommendations of the Business Impact Assessment on its proposed Third Party Fire Safety Certification Service by introducing a Registered Fire Engineer Scheme in Hong Kong.

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

(a) The Administration briefed the Wholesale and Retail Task Force (WRTF) on its proposal to consider regulating genetically modified food by introducing a mandatory pre-market safety assessment scheme in Hong Kong. The WRTF has no objection in principle to the proposal, but anticipates that there will be various implementation issues to sort out;

(b) The WRTF generally supports the Government's proposed extension of the Environmental Levy Scheme on Plastic Shopping Bags to cover all retailers in Hong Kong. To address food hygiene concerns, the WRTF requests the Government to reconsider retailers' earlier suggestion to exclude plastic shopping bags that are used to carry frozen/chilled food or broadly "temperature-controlled goods" from the ban on free distribution;

(c) The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has gazetted the amendment regulations to align the fees of food business licences/permits and liquor licences in the urban areas and the New Territories. Where the fee for a licence or permit differs between the urban areas and the New Territories, the lower rate will prevail. The WRTF and the Food Business and Related Services Task Force (FRSTF) welcome this initiative, which will reduce the compliance costs of the food business operators;

(d) The Food and Health Bureau briefed the FRSTF on the "Guidelines on Assessing Liquor Licence Applications" prepared by the Liquor Licensing Board (LLB). The LLB proposes to impose two additional licensing conditions on the liquor licences for "upstairs bars" with a view to ensuring proper management of "upstairs bars" and, at times of emergencies, providing more room for the safe evacuation of their employees and customers as well as occupants of the buildings where the "upstairs bars" are located. The trade has no objection to the requirement of attending "Seminar on Liquor Licensing" but would not accept imposing more stringent capacity limits on "upstairs bars". The FRSTF requests the Administration to further consult the trade before finalising the Guidelines;

(e) The Task Force on Business Liaison Groups (BLGTF) appreciated the Home Affairs Department's facilitation approach to allow the family amusement centres to specify in their game machine applications a range of redemption tickets to dispense (instead of a fixed number of tickets) in the mode of playing. This could waive the need of the trade to submit a separate application each time for change of the number of redemption tickets to dispense; and

(f) The BLGTF welcomes the efforts of the FEHD to design a standard application form with guidelines to assist the cinema operators to transfer their places of public entertainment licences. This measure could reduce the administrative burden of the trade.

     The committee was pleased that bureaux and departments had continued to further enhance their business licensing services under the "Be the Smart Regulator" Programme. Major progress is highlighted below:

(a) The Marine Department has enhanced its Electronic Business System whereby shipping companies can now submit online applications for the Port Facilities and Light Dues Incentive Scheme;

(b) The Transport Department (TD) has adopted a new licensing arrangement to assist non-franchised buses in providing student service. Under the new arrangement, passenger service licence (PSL) holders only need to furnish a student service contract to the TD for issue of student service endorsement in respect of all of their buses under the same PSL complying with the requirements. The operators could deploy their vehicles more flexibly to meet operational needs and demand; and

(c) The Hong Kong Police Force has implemented a new measure of issuing renewal reminders by post to massage establishment licensees and pawnbroker licensees two to three months before the expiry dates of their licences. This could help SMEs of the trades avoid business disruption due to late submission of licence renewal applications.

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

Ends/Thursday, July 18, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:32


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