Ronald Arculli to chair review of MPF changes

Hong Kong regulators and service providers aim to replace antagonism with cooperation as they improve the Mandatory Provident Fund system.
Former Hong Kong Legislative Council member Ronald Arculli is tipped to chair a series of meetings beginning next month between service providers, the government, employer and union groups to discuss future amendments to the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance.

Service providers in Hong Kong are pleased with the selection of Arculli to chair the fortnightly meetings, which kick off 9 September. A member of the Liberal party, Arculli represented the construction and property industry in Legco until his resignation last June. He won accolades from the financial community with his stewardship of amendments to the Securities and Futures Bill last year, a saga of acrimony between the government and securities firms in which Arculli emerged as an honest broker who is literate in financial and legal minutiae.

Now service providers are happy to have him involved, as they hope he will be able to move discussions along. They note that employer and employee groups are often unfamiliar with how MPF works, and are relying on Arculli to support sensible measures.

The mood between service providers and their regulator, the Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme Authority (MPFA), has improved. In January this year, just as MPF was launching, MPFA submitted a series of amendments to the MPF Schemes Ordinance, catching providers by surprise. These measures included controversial items such as giving MPFA prosecution powers and the ability to reject changes to provider fees and product offerings, and excluded a number of technical items high on providers' wish lists. Antagonism between MPFA and providers threatened to derail MPF at its birth.

Fortunately anger has cooled. MPFA ditched provisions that would ask Legco to give it prosecution powers, and service providers have slowly come to appreciate MPFA's political requirements. Amendments to the MPF Schemes Ordinance will continue over the next two or three years, and the launch of these meetings to come up with an agenda to submit to Legco indicates a desire on all sides to carry these out in a cooperative rather than confrontational atmosphere.