Efficiency

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  • Private Certification

    In order to reduce the processing time of licence application, Government will continue to explore more use of private certification, aiming to shorten queuing time for compliance inspections thus reducing processing time without sacrificing public safety.

  • Process Review

  • A) Application for Liquor Licence

    The Review of Liquor Licence was completed in mid-2007. Short- and medium-term recommendations were made to improve the existing legislative regime.  Most recommendations have been implemented with good results.  The average processing time of applications for liquor licences has been reduced, ranging from 20% to 60%, depending on the type of liquor licence and the complexity of each application.  In 2009, the average processing time was 30 working days for non-contested case and 50 working days for contested case.

     

    On 1 August 2010, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has launched the Liquor Licence Processing System to facilitate business operators to apply for new licences, renew licences, transfer licences and track the application progress through the Internet.

  • B) Application for Outside Seating Accommodation (OSA) of Restaurants

    In October 2013, the Working Group[1] put forward 10 recommendations to increase the transparency in the application procedures and requirements, shorten the processing time of applications and offer businesses greater flexibility in their operation.  The following 10 improvement measures have been implemented by the departments concerned accordingly in phases between January 2014 and July 2015 -

    1. Relax the pre-requisites for OSA applications whereby areas attached to restaurants which are underneath or partially covered by authorised structures projecting from the external walls of buildings, or located in backyards or open yards can be considered; specific criteria have been drawn up in this regard;
    2. Enhance the mechanism for considering public objections to OSA applications to facilitate more effective deliberations by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) on whether the grounds of objections are valid and whether the application should be proceeded with;
    3. Revise “A Guide to Application for Outside Seating Accommodation” (OSA Application Guide) to provide the trade with more detailed and updated information, including the information on rights of land use and fees payable in respect of OSA applications;
    4. Highlight in the OSA Application Guide that parallel processing of separate OSA and restaurant licence applications is allowed and the outcome of restaurant licence application is independent of that of OSA application;
    5. Allow granting of OSA permission to a provisional restaurant licence without the need to await the issue of a full licence;
    6. If there are objections to an OSA application raised by any of the departments concerned, the FEHD will arrange a joint departmental meeting for the relevant departments to discuss their objections with the applicant direct;
    7. Develop additional departmental referral rules to eliminate unnecessary procedures in the OSA application process;
    8. Enhance the online Licence Application Tracking Facility to enable applicants to track the progress of their OSA applications online;
    9. Streamline the application process for the issue of land licences so as to expedite the processing of OSA applications; and
    10. Adopt the “cancel and reissue” approach to shorten the application time of land licences related to the transfer of restaurant licences.


    [1] The Working Group comprises representatives from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Fire Services Department, Buildings Department, Lands Department, Planning Department, Housing Department, Transport Department, Home Affairs Department and Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit
  • C) Licensing Process for Property Development

    (With effect from 1 December 2008, applicants can choose to apply for warehouse construction permits through the One Stop Centre (OSC) operated under the Efficiency Unit.  For details of the OSC, please visit the Efficiency Unit’s website.)

    In 2014, the construction industry accounted for 189,454 jobs and 24,864 establishments in Hong Kong.  Together with the real estate sector, the industry constitutes an important part of our economy.  It is therefore an on-going initiative of the Government to review and improve the licensing process for property development.

    With the concerted effort of various departments, a number of reforms have been implemented over the past few years to reduce the processing time and streamline the procedures for building construction permits of two-storey warehouses. Development and details of the reforms are depicted in the ensuing sections.

    One notable initiative among the reforms is the setup of a One Stop Centre (OSC) under the administration of the Efficiency Unit (EU).  With the OSC to receive applications and coordinate joint inspections to minimize the compliance costs of applicants, it now takes 6 procedures and 67 days to obtain building construction permits for two-storey warehouse projects.

    The 6 procedures are briefly described here.  

    Procedure 1: an applicant can submit relevant applications in batch to the OSC to obtain pre-construction approvals including water connection from the Buildings Department, Water Supplies Department, the Police and Highways Department.  

    Procedure 2: after completion of the foundation works, an applicant can request and receive inspection of foundation strata by the Buildings Department.  

    Procedure 3: the applicant will receive one scheduled inspection at superstructure construction stage by the Buildings Department.

    Procedure 4: the applicant will receive one unscheduled audit inspection for foundation and/or superstructure works during the construction period by the Buildings Department.

    Procedure 5: an applicant can submit notification of project completion and relevant applications in batch to the OSC to obtain related certificates from the Drainage Services Department, Water Supplies Department, Buildings Department, Fire Services Department and Lands Department, as well as electricity and telephone line connection from utilities companies.  

    Procedure 6: the applicant will receive joint and final inspection of relevant licensing authorities coordinated by the OSC.

    Reforms over the Years

    On 10 September 2008, the World Bank published its “Doing Business 2009” report (Report). For the indicator of 'dealing with construction permits', which tracks the number of government procedures and processing time in building a two-storey warehouse, the ranking of Hong Kong was up from 60th in the preceding year to 20th in that round. This  significant improvement was mainly attributable to the effort of a Working Group (WG) established in 2007 to re-engineer and streamline the relevant licensing procedures. The WG comprises the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit, the Development Bureau and six departments (namely, the Buildings Department, Lands Department, Fire Services Department, Drainage Services Department, Highways Department and Water Supplies Department).

    Some of the WG's recommendations which did not require drastic procedural changes were implemented in 2007 to bring immediate benefits to the trade.  As a  result, the licensing process was streamlined to reduce the number of procedures by 8 from 23 to 15 and shorten the processing time by 36 days from 155 to 119 for small building projects like a two-storey warehouse.

    For other improvement opportunities identified by the WG to further improve the services associated with the application for construction permits, cross-departmental process re-engineering and organisational change were involved before they could be put in place. In early 2008, the EU reconvened the WG to take forward the following reforms -

    a) Setting-up of One Stop Centre

    Having reviewed the relevant cross-departmental processes, the WG agreed to set up a OSC for Warehouse Construction Permits under the administration of the EU for receiving all relevant building licence applications addressed to 6 government departments and 2 private utilities (i.e. electricity supply and telephone line connection) and coordinating their joint inspections for two-storey warehouse projects.

    Pre-construction

    At the pre-construction stage, property developers can now use Form OSC-1 to submit to the OSC in one-go all applications relating to building plans approval and consent for commencement of building works from Buildings Department, technical audit of water supply connection works by Water Supplies Department, and road excavation permit from both the Police and Highways Department.  This new arrangement can simplify the submission process by combining the following 5 procedures as stated in the Report –

    • Obtain building plans approval
    • Apply and pay for technical audit of water supply connection works
    • Apply, pay and receive road excavation work permission from Highways Department
    • Notify and obtain approval from traffic police
    • Obtain building consent from Buildings Department

     

    Post-construction

    When the necessary construction works are completed, the developer can now submit the post-construction applications/notifications under a covering checklist (Form OSC-2) to the OSC for technical audit from Drainage Services Department, water supply certificates from Water Supplies Department, occupation permit from Buildings Department, certificate of compliance from Lands Department, certificate for fire service installations from Fire Services Department, and connection of electricity and telephone line by the respective utility companies. This one-stop service eliminates the need of the developer to contact individual government departments and private utility companies for reporting completion of works, issuance of certificates and inspections.

    Upon receipt of the applications, the OSC will coordinate, according to the information provided in the application form, the relevant authorities to conduct a single joint inspection on one day. This greatly alleviates the effort of developers in receiving inspections and shortens the total processing time.

    With the establishment of the OSC,the following 8 procedures as stated in the Report have been replaced by only 2 new procedures (i.e. (i) Submit notification of project completion and relevant applications to OSC and (ii) Receive joint and final inspection of relevant licensing authorities coordinated by OSC) –

     

    Tracking of applications

    To facilitate answering enquiry from the applicants, the OSC has established a mechanism to monitor the progress of each application making the whole application process more transparent and convenient to the property developers.

    The OSC is a business facilitation measure. The effectiveness of this programme will be reviewed and the related processes will be refined as appropriate for continual improvement.

    (b) Concurrent processing of building plan approval and consent for commencement of building works

    To support the EU’s OSC, the Buildings Department has formulated new procedures to allow for concurrent applications for building plan approval and consent for commencement of building works for projects fulfilling specified criteria. With effect from 1 December 2008, the Buildings Department accepts concurrent submission of both applications via the OSC or to the Buildings Department direct. In addition, the department will process both applications within 45 days. Compared with the original processing time of 81 days (i.e. 60 days to approve a building plan application and 21 days to grant building consent as shown in the Report), this reform greatly reduces the total processing time by 36 days.

    The relevant procedures are detailed in the Practice Notes for Authorized Persons, Registered Structural Engineers and Registered Geotechnical Engineers PNAP ADM-19 (previous reference is PNAP 272).

    (c) Expedited processing of applications

    With better coordination of applications under the OSC, the Water Supplies Department, Fire Services Department and Lands Department have re-engineered their internal procedures and committed to reduce processing time for the following types of applications –

    Water Supplies Department

    The Water Supplies Department has shortened the processing time of applications for technical audit of water supply connection works from 21 days to 20 days.

    Fire Services Department

    The Fire Services Department has shortened the processing time of applications for certificate of fire service installations from 21 days to 19 days for applications submitted via the OSC.

    Lands Department

    The Lands Department has shortened the processing time of an application for certificate of compliance of a two-storey warehouse to 21 days upon receipt of the application.

    Implementation of all the above reforms (including the setting up of the OSC) was completed on 1 December 2008.

    On 9 September 2009, the World Bank issued the “Doing Business 2010” report. On the indicator of ‘dealing with construction permits’, Hong Kong rose from 20th to the first place as a result of the concerted efforts made by the related departments.  Hong Kong’s ranking on this indicator remains unchanged in the “Doing Business 2011” and "Doing Business 2012" reports released on 4 November 2010 and 20 October 2011 respectively.

    For continual improvement, the WG has been closely monitoring and reviewing the operational efficiency of the application process. The departments concerned have further reformed the process and streamlined the associated procedures in subsequent years.

    Buildings Department

    With effect from February 2014, the Buildings Department undertakes to conduct inspection of the foundation bearing strata within one working day upon receipt of notification as promulgated in Practice Note for Authorized Persons, Registered Structural Engineers and Registered Geotechnical Engineers PNAP ADM-19.

    For small scale building projects such as two-storey warehouses, the Buildings Department has since February 2016 combined the quality inspection to structural elements with the comprehensive inspection at superstructure construction stage into one joint inspection. The Buildings Department has further streamlined the unscheduled audit inspections. Subject to satisfactory results revealed from the initial auditing for foundation and/or superstructure works, the Department may not carry out further unscheduled audit inspections. Details of the reform measures are promulgated at the Department’s Practice Note for Authorized Persons, Registered Structural Engineers and Registered Geotechnical Engineers PNAP ADM-18 and Practice Note for Registered Contractors PNRC 49.

    Highways Department

    On 24 August 2009, the Highways Department launched the Excavation Permit Management System (XPMS), which is a new system to replace the former Utility Management System for processing Excavation Permits through internet. For registered XPMS users, the time required for processing applications for excavation permit has been reduced from 20 days to 5 days. A gazette notice has been published to announce the revised time limit for submission of applications under the XPMS.

    Fire Services Department

    In December 2009, the Fire Services Department reviewed and streamlined the process of handling applications for certificates of fire service installations.  The Department has further shortened the processing time from 19 days to 18 days with effect from 1 January 2010 and from 18 days to 17 days with effect from 21 December 2012.

     Details of the relevant procedures can be referred to the Department’s homepage.

    Lands Department

    Having reviewed and streamlined the related procedures, the Lands Department has reduced the time for issuing certificates of compliance for two-storey warehouses from 21 days to 20 days with effect from 1 January 2010 and from 20 days to 19 days with effect from 21 December 2012.

    Water Supplies Department

    In February 2011, the Water Supplies Department reviewed and further streamlined the process of water supply applications to improve its customer service.  Now, an applicant can submit both his applications for technical audit for water supply connection works and issue of Water Supplies Certificate in one go at the pre-construction stage.

    For small scale building projects, the Water Supplies Department has since January 2016 established the performance pledge that water supply for two-storey warehouses is made available on the same day of the joint and final inspection. The performance pledge is published at paragraph 3.1.2 of the Department’s "Handbook on Plumbing Installation for Buildings

    Composite Form for Utilities Application/Notification

    To further streamline the procedures for utility applications/notifications at the post-construction stage, the Government and some utility service providers collaborated to launch a composite form in March 2012.  Now an applicant can submit applications for electricity and telecommunication services and notification to Water Supplies Department for completion of plumbing works in one go via the composite form to the OSC.

    Since the launch, the scope of the composite form has been extended to include more service providers. Other utility service providers are welcome to participate in the reform measure.

    Overall, all related application processes for small scale building projects like a 2-storey warehouse can be completed in 6 procedures and 67 days.

    Please click here for an updated Gantt chart of the licensing procedures.

  • D) Application for Excavation Permit

    According to Chapter 28 Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, any person who wishes to make any excavation in unleased land must apply for an excavation permit. Utility companies who need to construct and lay any facility beneath any roads for the purpose of supplying utilities to their customers should apply to relevant government departments for permission to carry out the excavation work.

     

    Before 2002, an applicant had to approach the Highways Department, Hong Kong Police Force and Transport Department separately to seek their individual approvals before commencement of the excavation work. In 2002, the Highways Department, in collaboration with relevant departments, streamlined the application process by introducing a one-stop service for processing of applications. In August 2009, the Highways Department launched the new Excavation Permit Management System by which an applicant can now submit an application to the three departments concerned simultaneously, obtain the electronic excavation permit and notify the commencement of road work in an on-line mode.

     

    In October 2009, the World Bank published a "Getting Electricity" report and its survey findings on getting electricity connection for a newly constructed 2-storey warehouse in a non-residential area of 140 economies worldwide. The Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit of the Financial Secretary’s Office subsequently formed a liaison group with representatives from the Highways Department, Hong Kong Police Force and Transport Department as well as CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP) to regularly review and rationalize the procedures and performance pledges related to the CLP’s applications for excavation permits in connection with supply of electricity for 2-storey warehouses or similar industrial buildings in non-residential areas. This platform could also strengthen communication between the trade and the government to address cross-departmental issues.

     

    The first liaison group meeting was held in March 2010 to review and revise the performance pledges of relevant government departments as follows:

     

    (a) the Highways Department would complete the initial assessment of excavation proposal and approve the application for excavation permit within 1 working day respectively;

     

    (b) the Transport Department would process proposed temporary traffic arrangement and provide comments to the electricity company within 21 days;

     

    (c) in parallel with the procedure (b), the Hong Kong Police Force would process the lighting, signing and guarding proposal and reply to the electricity company within 14 days; and

     

    (d) the Highways Department would approve the application and issue an excavation permit electronically to the applicant within 1 working day.

     

    In March 2011, the liaison group conducted another round of review of the application process. The Transport Department further streamlined its procedures and reduced the time for processing temporary traffic arrangement proposals from 21 days to 14 days.

     

    For continual improvement, the liaison group regularly reviewed the application process to further streamline the procedures as follows:

     

    Hong Kong Police Force’s pledge for processing lighting, signing and guarding proposals

    Effective date

    12 days

    January 2012

    10 days

    January 2013

    9 days

    February 2014

    8 days December 2014
    7 days

    January

    2016


    Transport Department’s pledge for processing temporary traffic management proposals

    Effective date

    12 days

    January 2012

    10 days

    January 2013

    9 days

    February 2014

    8 days December 2014
    7 days

    January

    2016

     

    Overall, it takes a total of 9 days for relevant government departments to process and approve an application for excavation permit in connection with electricity supply for 2-storey warehouses or similar industrial buildings in non-residential areas. For details, please refer to the relevant Guidance Note available on the website of theHighways Department.

  • E) Application for Places of Amusement Licences (PAL)

    The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) is the licensing authority of PAL for billiard establishments, public bowling alleys and public skating rinks.  In response to the trade’s request to shorten the application approval time for PAL, LCSD has liaised with the relevant departments involved in the licensing process (including Fire Services Department, Buildings Department, Hong Kong Police Force, Lands Department and Home Affairs Department) to review and streamline the application procedures.  With the concerted efforts of the relevant departments, the overall processing time has been reduced by 24% from 72 working days to 55 working days.  

Last revision date: March 2017