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BFAC welcomes Government efforts to facilitate business compliance

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

     The Business Facilitation Advisory Committee held its 27th meeting today (November 27). The Administration briefed the committee on the draft guidelines published by the Competition Commission, implementation details for extending the Plastic Shopping Bag Charging to all retail outlets and the key findings of the Research Study on the Social Enterprise Sector in Hong Kong.

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

(a) The Wholesale and Retail Task Force (WRTF) notes the complexity of the application process of the formal registration of propriety Chinese medicines from transitional registration. To facilitate the trade, especially small and medium enterprises, the Department of Health (DH) has introduced various measures, including extension of deadline for the submission of the certificates of analysis and general stability test reports, acceptance of product efficacy documents written by researchers or owners of prescriptions, adjusting technical requirements of product quality documents to allow conditional approval for registration, and organising technical seminars to help the trade to pass the tests. Noting that the change from sugar coating to polymer coating is becoming a trend, the Chinese Medicines Board (CMB) is considering whether a simpler testing method could be adopted in order to reduce the compliance cost of the trade. The WRTF appreciates the efforts of the DH and CMB;

(b) The WRTF welcomes the trade facilitation measures taken by the Centre for Food Safety for the smooth implementation of the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation. These measures include establishing a channel for the trade to submit proposals for addition/revision to the existing pesticide standards and to propose new exempted pesticides, organising briefings, technical meetings and workshops for the trade and other stakeholders, publishing technical guidelines and providing an online searchable database for finding relevant pesticide standards;

(c) The Food Business and Related Services Task Force (FRSTF) is concerned that for air-conditioned food factories with automated manufacturing processes and a limited number of food handlers, the ventilation requirement of 20 air changes per hour (ACH) is excessive and incurs unnecessary investment. To address the trade's concern and to protect food safety and environmental hygiene, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) would consider case by case whether less ACH is applicable. The FRSTF suggests that the department should introduce measures to facilitate the trade to better understand the air change requirement for compliance;

(d) To remove the doubts of the trade, the FEHD has highlighted in the Outside Seating Accommodation (OSA) application guide published on its website that OSA and restaurant licence applications can be submitted for parallel processing and that the outcome of the two applications are independent of each other. To increase the transparency of the OSA application process, a joint departmental meeting will be convened with the applicants for applications received on or after October 1, 2014 if objections are raised by any of the departments concerned. The FRSTF appreciates the implementation efforts of the Administration;

(e) The Task Force on Business Liaison Groups (BLGTF) welcomes the implementation of a fast track application procedure for processing simple cases of non-designated use of places of amusement by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, in collaboration with the Buildings Department and the Fire Services Department. The processing time of the applications can be shortened by 33 per cent from 30 to 20 working days; and

(f) Due to physical site restriction, it might not be feasible for some restaurant operators to provide separate exhaust outlets for each ventilating system of their premises. In response, the FSD and FEHD have advised that under certain circumstances and conditions, the kitchen and bar area of restaurants may share use the same ventilating system for exhaust outlet. The BLGTF welcomes the flexible approach taken by the departments.

     The committee is pleased to note that the World Bank ranks Hong Kong as the world's third easiest place to do business according to its Doing Business 2015 Report released on October 29 this year. This affirms the Government's incessant efforts in business facilitation. Substantive changes in methodology have been introduced in this year's report. The ranking calculation is based on the distance to frontier (DTF) score rather than on the percentile rank. Under the new methodology, Hong Kong also ranked third in last year's report. The aggregate DTF score of Hong Kong is slightly up from 84.45 last year to 84.97 this year, indicating an improvement in Hong Kong's overall business environment.

     The committee also appreciates the continuous efforts of the bureaux and departments in further enhancing their business licensing services under the "Be the Smart Regulator" Programme. Major progress is highlighted below:

(a) The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department has introduced an online training records enquiry system for registered electrical workers. This measure enables workers to check through the Internet whether they have completed the continuing professional development training before applying for registration renewal;

(b) The Social Welfare Department has launched a mobile computing system to assist inspectors of residential care homes for the elderly in improving the efficiency of their on-site inspection and post-inspection work;

(c) The Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority Secretariat has developed an information kit to improve the consistency and effectiveness of handling enquiries from the trade and public; and

(d) The Business Facilitation Initiatives website ( has recently been revamped to provide a new look and feel and improve user experience.

     Papers for the committee meeting are available at for public access.

Ends/Thursday, November 27, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:56


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