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Speech by SFST at the 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner of the Hong Kong Retirement Schemes Association (English only)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner of the Hong Kong Retirement Schemes Association today (February 1):

     It gives me great pleasure to be here this evening to celebrate with you the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Retirement Schemes Association.

     There is a Chinese saying "十年人事幾番新" or in English "Things and people change a lot in the space of 10 years".  This unmistakably describes what happened in the landscape of retirement protection in Hong Kong in the past decade.  Established in 1996, the Retirement Schemes Association has not only witnessed the birth of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) System, but also made substantial contributions to the development of the System.

     Looking back, some 10 years ago, after intense discussions inside and outside the legislature, the enabling legislation for our MPF System was passed, laying the solid foundation for our present System.  The Retirement Schemes Association was established at this juncture with a mission to promote awareness about retirement protection and best practices for the industry.  I note that the association has a broad range of interests covering every specific area of retirement protection, from investment management, pensions governance to Hong Kong demographics.  It shares with us its concern on how best to ensure that older members of our society enjoy a dignified and financially secure retirement life, and has organised a number of successful seminars to this effect. I am also impressed by the Retirement Schemes Management Programme jointly organised by the association and the University of Hong Kong which goes a long way towards nurturing talent for the industry.  Allow me here to pay tribute to the hard work of the association and to extend my congratulation on its success.

     While Hong Kong now has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, we are facing an ageing population.  It is projected that in 30 years' time, around 27% of our population will be aged 65 and over, compared with about 12% today.  It is important for our citizens to get prepared by making use of retirement schemes for better financial security throughout their lives.  If not, we will be overly burdening our future generations.

     Today, our MPF System has grown at a faster pace than we envisaged.  It has been lauded by the World Bank as a role model in the three-pillar approach to protection for the aged.  The total asset in the System has topped $190 billion and around $2.4 billion is flowing in every month.  There are now over 2.2 million employers and employees, as well as some 285,000 self-employed people enrolled in the System.  Thanks to the concerted efforts of all parties concerned including you and the association, general awareness about the importance to prepare for the livings in older days has steadily grown and retirement protection is no longer an alien concept to most people.

     Meanwhile, I understand that the MPFA is also considering how best to further enhance the transparency of the MPF fund.  A series of improvements and fine-tunings to the system will also culminate in an amendment bill to be introduced into the legislature later this year.  I trust that the industry will provide staunch support to these initiatives.

     Looking ahead, I am confident that while we will grow older, our retirement protection system will mirror our lives - the best is yet to come.  The Government will continue to work with the association to ensure that we have a robust system which meets the long-term needs of our society.  In closing, let me congratulate the association on its 10th Anniversary and express my best wishes to you all for a wonderful evening and a most prosperous year ahead.  Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, February 1, 2007
Issued at HKT 20:30


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