Legislative Council Question 12 : "Planning Department's advice to business licence applications" by the Hon Fred Li and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council

Following is a question by the Hon Fred Li and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (June 20):


Although the Planning Department ("PlanD") is not the main licensing department, it is required to advise other departments on quite a number of types of licence applications. Recently, the owner of a fresh provision shop complained to me that the vetting and approving of his licence application was delayed by the authorities because the application was required to be processed by PlanD. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of types of applications relating to business licences on which PlanD is currently required to advise, and the average time taken by PlanD to advise on such applications; and

(b) whether, in connection with the above problem, it has studied if the relevant procedures can be streamlined and the processing time for such applications shortened, so as to facilitate business operations; if it has conducted such a study, of the findings; if it has not, the reasons for that?



My reply to the two-part question is as follows:

(a) Applications for business licences on which the Planning Department (Plan D) provide advice include mainly those for food business licences (there are nine types, namely restaurant, food factory, fresh provision shop, bakery, factory canteen, siu mei and lo mei shop, frozen confection factory, milk factory and cold store) referred by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to other government departments concerned for consideration, and those for the registration of tutorial schools.

In connection with the aforementioned applications for the nine types of food business licences, the FEHD has made arrangements with the Plan D. Regarding applications for new licences for restaurants and cold stores, the Plan D will reply within 17 working days upon the receipt of referral from the FEHD. As regards applications for new licences for the other seven types of food business (including the fresh provision shop referred to in the question), replies will be given within 24 working days. For enquiries on applications for the registration of tutorial schools, the Plan D will normally reply to the applicant concerned within one week.

The Plan D will also give advice within a shorter time frame where practicable according to the needs of the relevant departments.

(b) In line with the Government's policy of promoting a favourable business environment, the licensing departments have been exploring with other relevant government departments ways to streamline the licensing procedures. By way of example, the arrangement for processing applications for food business licences as mentioned above is a working agreement reached between the FEHD and the Plan D after discussions. The government departments concerned will continue to explore how to further streamline the procedures for processing applications.

Ends/Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Issued at HKT 15:10