Following is a speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the Prize Presentation and Exhibition Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects Annual Awards 2003 at the Pacific Place in Queensway this (March 15) evening (English only):
Mr [Edward] Shen, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you tonight for the Prize Presentation and Exhibition Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects Annual Awards 2003. After talking so much about the Budget these past few days, it is indeed refreshing to devote an evening to honour a group of outstanding architects, who showcase Hong Kong's talent and creativity.
The architecture industry is a major pillar of Hong Kong's economy. Its incredible contributions have profoundly transformed our cityscape and skyline, which have long become a part of Hong Kong's identity. By just looking at the winners and nominees of this year's Awards, people would certainly be impressed by our world-class architectural projects.
The past few years have been challenging for Hong Kong, and more so for our architecture industry. Yet, we have once again demonstrated our resilience, our perseverance and our determination to succeed. The implementation of CEPA provides an added impetus to our budding economic recovery. For the architecture industry, Hong Kong companies are now able to provide architectural services in the Mainland, in the form of wholly owned operations. And just last month, the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of the Qualification of Architects was signed in Beijing, marking an important milestone of cooperation between the Mainland's and Hong Kong's professionals.
On the part of the Government, we would continue to invest in quality infrastructures that are necessary to our future economic growth. Over the next five years, Government's capital expenditure will amount to $43 billion a year on average, of which around $29 billion will be allocated to works projects. We are also exploring ways to expedite capital projects using Public Private Partnerships or Private Finance Initiatives. We believe that all these would give a boost to our building industry, including the architects and engineers at large.
I am pleased to note that the HKIA Annual Awards 2003 received a total of 58 highly deserving nominations. The winners have certainly demonstrated outstanding achievements in the field, and they stand as role models for others. May I offer my warmest congratulations to all of them.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, not only for organizing these prestigious Awards, but also for its contributions in raising the standard of architecture in Hong Kong and advising the Government on industry-related issues. My best wishes to HKIA for every success in the years ahead. Thank you.
Ends/Monday, March 15, 2004