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Speech by FS at Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants Annual Dinner (English only) (with photo)
     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, at the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants Annual Dinner today (December 5):

Deputy Director-General Li Xuhong (Deputy Director-General of the Department of Administration and Finance of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), Loretta (President of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), Ms Loretta Fong), Margaret (Chief Executive and Registrar of HKICPA, Ms Margaret Chan), fellow accountants, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. It's been five years since I last spoke at this yearly gathering of the Institute. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you again.

     In fact, being among you is always a homecoming of some sort, bringing back a lot of fond memories. It is an opportunity to look back. So much to look back to. I've been a member, after all, since 1980. Almost as long as the Institute itself. But, as Loretta made clear a few minutes ago, we need to be looking ahead these days. Change is hurtling our Institute, and this profession, into what she called "a paradigm shift" in what it means to be an accountant.

     The theme of this year's dinner, "Building Upon Change", says it all. 

     Change is something that the world is rapidly facing, if not confronting. And, yes, this year has certainly been shot through with change for our accounting profession too. For everyone in this room. Over the past decade or so, the world order has been increasingly polarised and divided, and the high tide of geopolitical tensions - whether they are the Russia-Ukraine conflict or China-US tensions - are registering profound ramifications for the world's economic future and prospects, both in the short and the medium and long-term. 

     In the short term, Hong Kong, as a small, open and externally oriented economy, is currently weathering an external environment that has deteriorated. Geopolitical tensions have interfered with the global supply chain and led to rise in inflation, and consequently interest rate hikes and tightening of monetary policies. On the other hand, the Mainland has shown a moderate revival, but its economy has been constrained by slackened global demand and the COVID-19 situation from time to time. And how the surge of cases in recent weeks would impact on the Mainland's economy remains to be seen. The International Monetary Fund has come up with a lower global economic growth forecast for 2023: down to 2.7 per cent, from 3.2 per cent this year, and around 40 per cent of economies are facing the risk of economic contraction. 

     The challenging external environment has taken a toll on Hong Kong's exports and investments, and will continue to do so for some time in 2023. But there is no need to succumb to cynicism: where the external environment is not worse than expected; where the Mainland's resilient economy will revive; and where Hong Kong's economic activities can steadily return to normal, our economy will gradually regain momentum next year.

     In the medium and long term, challenges and opportunities will both present themselves to us. De-globalisation, geopolitical tensions, and keen competition among different economies for markets, investment and talent are just among the external elements that continue to cast a lasting impact. We must also be honest with some of the structural factors that will encumber economic growth and prosperity - be it land supply, an aging population, or an industry structure that eagerly needs diversification and upgrading. 

     On the favourable side, our country and other parts of Asia, particularly Southeast Asia and India, are growing, emerging as the centre of economic gravity. Hong Kong's unique position of connecting the Mainland and the rest of the world, will remain indispensable. At the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, high-quality development, high-standard opening up, and a new pattern of development were once again emphasised. We are much heartened and encouraged by its reaffirmation that Hong Kong will continue to make valuable contributions in this process, by deepening the connectivity with other regions and countries, and by greater and faster integration into our country's overall economic development plan, under the National 14th Five-Year Plan, the Greater Bay Area development and beyond.    

     That is why we must grasp the precious window of opportunity to plan and act for the future. The Government has transformed our philosophy of governance, seeking to combine the strengths of a capable government with an efficient market. Where Government's efforts are needed to steer the desired development, we are proactive and catalytic, and yet will leave enough room for the market to flourish. In short, we have embraced a "paradigm shift" too.  

     Change in our philosophy aims to create a strong impetus for growth for Hong Kong, generating more and better quality employment opportunities for the people, particularly our younger generation. From diversifying and upgrading financial services to grooming I&T and pushing for re-industrialisation; from developing the Northern Metropolis to launching new railway projects; and from boldly attracting enterprises and talents to deepening our co-operation with our sister cities in the Greater Bay Area, we are certainly marching forward.

     In a changing world, Hong Kong will continue to be a firm supporter of free trade and multilateralism, for this is the key to forging co-operation and progress, and achieving common prosperity. Change also precipitates a need for us to find new markets, new growth points - the emerging Asia, the Middle East, etc are where we will be looking to. To that end, we are actively seeking accession to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) whereby it would lower the costs of trading, enhance our business competitiveness and attract more investments. Meanwhile, we are seeking free trade agreements with other economies too.  

     Ladies and gentlemen, back to the theme of today's dinner - "Building Upon Change" - I am proud to say that Hong Kong has always found opportunities in, and thrived on, change. Likewise for accountants. Accountants are critical to Hong Kong's continuing success as a leading international financial centre. You are the professionals who keep the sector in the passing lane - however fast the economy, the competition and our world is changing.

     The crux in face of change is to maintain our openness, willingness and agility to adapt to today's dynamic situation. To accelerating change.

     This is also a spirit that we uphold in preparing for the Budget every year. As the consultation for the Budget in the 2023-24 financial year will soon begin, I look forward to the valuable submissions from the Institute, and all of you in the accounting profession, like you all do year after year. Not just on tax or finance issues, but any ideas that would help us paint a brighter future for Hong Kong.  

     Last but not least, my sincere thanks again to the Institute for inviting me to the dinner again, and may I wish you good health and the best of business in the year to come. Thank you very much.
Ends/Monday, December 5, 2022
Issued at HKT 20:48
Today's Press Releases  


The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, speaks at the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants Annual Dinner today (December 5).