Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

UK Chamber Finds Growing Dissatisfaction

Peter So and Paggie Leung – Updated on Jan 22, 2009 – SCMP

British businesspeople’s dissatisfaction with the city’s political environment, government leadership, environmental strategies and language proficiency of employees has grown, according to a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce.

And there has been a huge decrease in confidence in short-term business prospects.

While 96 per cent of members described the Hong Kong business environment last year as “very” or “somewhat” satisfactory, a slight dip of 2 percentage points from 2007, only 40 per cent said they were positive about prospects this year – a big drop from a 91 per cent positive response in 2007.

Respondents said they were pessimistic about business prospects in the next two years, but anticipated a recovery in three to five years.

The survey, conducted in December, brought 121 replies from members. Of those, less than half, or 45 per cent, said they were satisfied with government leadership, a drop of 13 percentage points from 2007.

Satisfaction with the stability of the government and political system dipped year on year by 8 percentage points to 89 per cent.

Meanwhile, fewer respondents thought the government had the “right and long-term strategy” to enhance the city’s competitive advantages, with the satisfaction rate dropping by 12 percentage points to 57 per cent.

Sixty per cent said they were not confident in the government’s strategy to reform the health-care sector, but 78 per cent said government plans to introduce competition legislation in the next Legislative Council session would be good for business.

Ninety-one per cent said they were dissatisfied with government efforts to improve air quality in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, while 85 per cent were discontented with efforts to reduce water pollution in Victoria Harbour and coastal areas. The figures were similar in 2007.

On language proficiency, nearly all employers were satisfied with their staff members’ ability to speak Cantonese, but there was growing dissatisfaction about English and Putonghua proficiency.

Forty-six per cent said they were unhappy with employees’ English ability, an increase of 10 percentage points from three years ago. And 45 per cent said they were dissatisfied with employees’ Putonghua abilities, a rise of 7 percentage points over the same period.

Sixty-one per cent said they had negative expectations of the city’s business outlook this year, and 76 per cent felt the same way about next year. About a third thought economic prospects would become positive in 2011, while 96 per cent expected the economy would fully recover within five years.

However, fewer expected the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement would bring benefits to their businesses, with only 32 saying it would positively affect business, 38 percentage points less than the 70 per cent of hopefuls recorded in 2002. Two-thirds (67 per cent) said the arrangement would have no impact, a 40 percentage-point increase from 2002.

In another survey, conducted by recruitment firm Hudson, 11 per cent of 812 executives in Hong Kong forecast a reduction in headcount in the first quarter of this year.

Only 18 per cent said they expected to increase hiring, the poll said.

Comments are closed.