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SFST's speech at Hong Kong Institute of Directors 25th Anniversary Dinner cum Presentation of Directors Of The Year Awards 2022 (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, at the Hong Kong Institute of Directors 25th Anniversary Dinner cum Presentation of Directors Of The Year Awards 2022 today (November 23):
Dr Moses Cheng (Honorary President and Founder Chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Directors (HKIoD)), Dr Christopher To (Chairman of the HKIoD), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good evening. It is a great pleasure to join you all today to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Hong Kong Institute of Directors as well as to congratulate the winners of this year's Directors of The Year Awards.
     Over the past 25 years, the HKIoD has been one of the Government's most valued partners in our common endeavours to strengthen Hong Kong's competitiveness as a premier international financial centre. The Government has long accorded great importance to the promotion of good corporate governance, which plays a central role in underpinning the efficiency and credibility of Hong Kong's financial markets. We are most delighted to see that with the HKIoD's unwavering determination in advocating excellence in director practices and corporate governance through standard-setting and professional development programmes, especially since the launch of the iconic Directors Of The Year Awards in 2001, the HKIoD has helped nurture generations of directors who have made significant contributions to our economy with their professionalism and integrity.
     As succinctly highlighted in the theme of this year's Directors Of The Year Awards, "resilience" is what brought Hong Kong through the many challenges over the years from a changing external environment, social issues, to the COVID pandemic. Year 2022 is a milestone for Hong Kong, as it commemorates the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the successful implementation of the unprecedented "one country, two systems" principle. This is also the year that we have restored stability and will advance from it to prosperity for Hong Kong.
     Under the auspices of the Central People's Government, Hong Kong enjoys overriding advantages and abundant opportunities in the key national strategies including the 14th Five-Year Plan, the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative. As announced in The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address, it is one of our top priorities to integrate with the national development by effectively delivering our unique role as a bridge linking the Mainland and the rest of the world. To achieve that, the Chief Executive personally leads the newly established high-level Steering Group on Integration into National Development to provide a steer and enhance communications with relevant Mainland authorities to spearhead various initiatives in the pipeline.
     New measures in the financial services space include the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX)'s revision of the Main Board Listing Rules and the plan to revitalise the GEM (Growth Enterprise Market); the promotion on the launch of more Renminbi (RMB)-denominated investment tools and stable and highly efficient treasury services; the timely implementation of the mutual market access arrangements supported by the China Securities Regulatory Commission; the planned legislative exercise to offer tax concession for eligible family offices; and the promotion of fintech, all for the enhancement and consolidation of our position as a global fundraising platform, an offshore RMB business hub and an asset and risk management centre.
     On top of these, echoing the second element of the theme of this year's Directors Of The Year Awards, I wish to talk a bit more on our vision on the development of green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong.
     President Xi announced in 2020 our country's commitment to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. To dovetail with such target, Hong Kong is set to reduce carbon emissions from the 2005 level by half before 2035 and ultimately attain carbon neutrality before 2050. We are now striving to promote green transformation of our economy and to establish Hong Kong as a green and sustainable finance hub in the region.
     I am pleased to say that we are making good progress. In 2021 alone, the volume of green and sustainable debt arranged and issued in Hong Kong reached a record high at US$57 billion, which quadrupled from the preceding year. Of this, the volume of green and sustainable bonds amounted to US$31 billion, accounting for one-third of those issued in the Asia market and making us number one in the region. The Government Green Bond Programme has been a success, under which we have issued close to US$10 billion equivalent of government green bonds since May 2019. Following the successful bond issuance in Hong Kong by the Shenzhen Municipal People's Government last year, the People's Government of Hainan Province issued its first offshore RMB bonds totalling RMB5 billion in Hong Kong in October 2022. The Shenzhen Municipal People's Government also issued bonds totalling RMB5 billion in Hong Kong for the second time. Bond types included blue bonds and sustainable bonds for the first time, further enriching the range of green finance products available in the Hong Kong market. In May this year, we issued the inaugural retail green bond totaling HK$20 billion, providing the public with a green investment option with a steady return and broadening the variety of green and sustainable financial products in Hong Kong.
     And there are more to come. For one, we issued on October 31 an important policy statement on our stance and approach towards the development of virtual assets (VA) in Hong Kong. The Government and the regulators are exploring pilot projects, among other things, to tokenise government green bond issuance for subscription by institutional investors, with a view to leveraging the technological benefits brought by VA to enhance efficiency and reduce costs in bond issuance and settlement. We will also support the HKEX's co-operation with financial institutions in Guangzhou in carbon market development.
     Ladies and gentlemen, we are now at an exciting time in the history of Hong Kong. With our constitutional order better safeguarded and our governance systems improved, we are more ready than ever to open a new chapter of Hong Kong. While we have announced an ambitious plan to proactively trawl the world for new talents, local talents like each one of you, who not only have knowledge and experience but also confidence and faith in our economy, are indispensable to the sustainable development of our city. I look forward to the continued collaboration between the Government and the HKIoD as well as all members to press ahead for a vibrant and promising future for Hong Kong.
     Before I close, may I express my gratitude again to the contribution of the HKIoD in the past 25 years, and congratulations to the winners of the Directors Of The Year Awards.
     I wish you the best of business and health in the coming year. Thank you very much.
Ends/Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Issued at HKT 19:03
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