Following is the welcoming speech by Mr. Joshua LAW, the Director-General of Trade and Industry at the opening ceremony of the Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs today (January 24):
Chief Executive, Mr. Chan Wing-kee, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the opening ceremony of the "Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs" (SUCCESS) of the Trade and Industry Department.
On behalf of the Department, I would like to thank the Chief Executive for officiating at this ceremony. The Chief Executive's presence today is a reflection of the importance which the Government attaches to the development of small and medium enterprises, and its commitment to continue its support for SMEs in future.
I would also like to thank all of you for coming to this ceremony.
In particular, I would like to thank Mr. CHAN Wing-kee, Chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprises Committee, and members of the Committee for their invaluable advice on what further measures Government might adopt to support SMEs. That the Department is able to run various SME programmes smoothly owes much to the Committee's guidelines and support.
I am grateful to the various public and private organisations for their assistance in helping run the Centre's services.
I am grateful to my colleagues for their efforts over the past few months in bringing this Centre into operation as scheduled, and in launching the four SME funding schemes.
I would like to take this opportunity to report on the progress of the four SME funding schemes. As at yesterday, a total of 534 applications were received under the SME Business Installations and Equipment Loan Guarantee Scheme, the SME Export Marketing Fund, and the SME Training Fund. 416 of them have been approved, involving a sum of about $46 million in Government guarantee or grants. We are inviting the first tranche of applications for the SME Development Fund. The deadline for submitting applications is mid-February.
This Centre started operation in November last year. It provides a wide range of information and consultation services on starting and running businesses, including the "Meet-the-Advisors" sessions, and an enquiry service on the types of licences required for starting a business. Workshops and seminars are held regularly. The Centre has a reference library, an area for organising small-scale seminars, computer workstations with access to the Internet, and hotlines connecting to a number of licensing authorities. In addition, we are pleased to have the Hong Kong Trade Development Council setting up an "SME Service Station" here, providing convenient and efficient services to SMEs.
My colleagues and I stand ready to provide effective and quality support services to SMEs. If you have ideas on how we might do our job better, please let us know.
End/Thursday, January 24, 2002