Following is the full text of the welcoming address by the Secretary for Works, Mr Kwong Hong-sang, at the opening ceremony of the Third Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure Development in the Asia Pacific Region Opening Ceremony today (Wendesday) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre:
Chief Executive, Distinguished Delegates, Honourable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I have great pleasure in extending our warmest welcome to the Ministers, Vice-ministers, and all the delegates who are gathered here for the Third Ministers' Forum. Without their strong and determined support we would not have been able to open the Forum successfully.
2. At the last Ministers' Forum held two years ago, there was general consensus that a top priority item was the promotion and strengthening of public and private partnership for infrastructure development. I am pleased to note that there is continued interest among member countries and areas to further explore this subject. In fact a number of papers will be presented on the ways and means to share responsibilities between the private and the public sector, and on the need to explore new and innovative ways to secure financial resources.
3. A subject of immense common interest is in housing development and its impact on the urban and the rural areas. With population growth and faster pace in urbanisation, improved housing supply has a direct and positive impact on the quality of life. The task of public housing development is immense, and governments have shown a keen interest to explore innovative housing solutions so as to make better use of scarce urban land.
4. Another expressed priority is the development of international infrastructure to facilitate the movement of goods and passengers arising from the growth in cross border trade and travel. We need to bring people of the Asia-pacific Region closer to each other by shortening the distance and time for travelling across the Pacific. The subject of infrastructure development for wide area transportation will be on the agenda of this Forum.
5. Mutual co-operation and information exchange are an indispensable subject for this Forum as much as for previous occasions. The Ministers' Forum has a unique value for existence because it provides opportunities for discussions and exchanges on a less formal and therefore more flexible basis. I hope that through this Forum there will be an increase in exchange and co-operation activities in any form among member countries and areas.
6. Given the breath of the themes and the great number of papers for this Forum, the only constraint for us will be the comparatively short time available for discussion. Nevertheless, I am sure that we will all be impressed by the substance of the papers to be presented, as well as the enthusiasm with which suggestions for further mutual co-operation are made.
7. Finally, I would like to welcome once again all the delegates who have come from afar to participate in the Forum. May I wish them all an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.
8. Thank you.
End/Wednesday, May 26, 1999