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Speech by FS at 2012 Hong Kong Awards for Industries (English only)(with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the 2012 Hong Kong Awards for Industries at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this evening (August 27):

Professor Chan (Chan Fan-cheong, Tony), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.

     I am pleased to join you again this year for the Hong Kong Awards for Industries (HKAI). My warmest congratulations to all the winners.

     This is, indeed, a season for competition. Earlier this month the curtain came down on the Summer Olympics. Hong Kong athletes returned home from the London Games with one medal, but plenty of personal glory. Our Paralympics Team is now on the way to London. I am sure that we will be proud of their achievements in the Games which will be opened this Thursday. Competition of a different kind is heating up ahead of the Legislative Council election next month. And you will be the adjudicators. Do remember that you have two votes. So you'll get to vote in two different elections.

     In terms of our industries, the HKAI is some sort of "mini-Olympics" for our entrepreneurs. In true Olympic spirit, the Awards encourage them to strive for faster delivery, higher standards and stronger brand identity for their products and services.

     The HKAI provides an ideal platform for our entrepreneurs to showcase their strengths in the development, design and application of technology.

     It is often said that competition breeds success, and our industrialists do have the skills, tenacity and determination to succeed. The successful entrepreneurs also have an eye for innovation and creativity.

     Creativity and innovation give impetus to economic development and enhance our overall competitiveness. Designers and innovators transform their ideas into reality and, in turn, stimulate future creations.

     I am delighted to see all these wonderful qualities in our winning entries tonight.

     As we applaud the achievements of tonight's winners, there is no room for complacency amid the uncertain global economy. Lingering challenges include the eurozone debt crisis, the sluggish US recovery, rising operational costs, and increasingly keen competition from within our own region, just to name a few.

     We are conscious of the difficulties that our business people face, particularly those operating small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

     The Government is fully committed to supporting our manufacturers and service providers. Since my Budget in February this year, we have deployed a range of measures to help companies, especially SMEs, remain ahead of the game.

     More than 20 schemes and programmes are in place to support Hong Kong enterprises in the areas of product and service R&D, market development, creativity and design, financing, environmental management, and training.

     We have programmes to nurture and incubate start-up companies. Through the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation, we have launched a "Microfinance Scheme" to assist people who wish to start their own businesses, or upgrade their skills through training.

     Allow me to highlight a new funding scheme launched by the Government in June this year to help the business community tap the enormous markets in the Mainland. We have $1 billion Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales.

     This Fund comprises two parts: the Enterprise Support Programme and the Organisation Support Programme. These two programmes finance individual enterprises and non-profit organisations respectively. The goal is to help businesses develop their brands, upgrade or restructure their operations, and penetrate the Mainland market.

     The Hong Kong Productivity Council, one of the leading organisers tonight, services the Enterprise Support Programme. All non-listed companies registered in Hong Kong with substantive business operations locally may apply. Funding will be provided on a matching basis. Each enterprise may be funded for up to three projects, with a cumulative funding ceiling of $500,000.

     The Trade and Industry Department directly services the Organisation Support Programme. Industrial and trade organisations, professional bodies and research institutes may apply for funding under this Programme. The maximum amount of funding support for each project is $5 million, or 90 per cent of the approved project expenditure, whichever is lower.

     The National 12th Five-year Plan, adopted by the Central Government last year, establishes a clear direction for our nation's economic development. The Plan places great emphasis on expanding domestic demand as well as upgrading and restructuring industries. I encourage you to make the best use of this new Fund in capturing opportunities provided by the 12th Five Year Plan.

     No doubt, the "China factor" remains Hong Kong's strongest advantage in expanding markets and sustaining economic growth. The HKSAR Government spares no effort in facilitating our businesses in accessing the Mainland market. We are working closely with the Mainland authorities on a roadmap to broadly achieve full liberalisation of cross-boundary trade in services by 2015, which is the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan period. Supplement IX (nine) to CEPA, signed last June, marks a significant step towards this goal.

     Ladies and gentlemen, it just remains for me to again congratulate tonight's winners - the "Olympians" of our industrial sector. I would also like to thank the Organising Committee, the Leading Organisers, our sponsors, media partners, the supporting organisations, and all the judges for their hard work in making the 2012 Hong Kong Awards for Industries a great success.

     Thank you so much, and have a great evening.

Ends/Monday, August 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:20


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