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Budget brings high-quality development to the fore
     High-quality development will drive Hong Kong's future success, said the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, in his 2023-24 Budget today (February 22).
     Mr Chan said, "We must push forward our economy towards high-quality development and persistently drive development through innovation and technology (I&T); create new growth impetus through institutional and policy innovations; and progress towards green transformation by vigorously promoting the development of green and low-carbon technology and industries.”
     Mr Chan said that Hong Kong has an edge when it comes to establishing an international green technology and financial centre as Hong Kong has pooled together quite a number of green technology enterprises and talents. Hong Kong should strive to become an international green technology and financial centre.
     To help realise that ambition, Mr Chan said he would set up a Green Technology and Finance Development Committee comprising representatives from a wide variety of industries, including green technology and finance, as well as green standard certification, to formulate an action agenda. This would include the building of a green technology ecosystem to attract prominent companies and start-ups, and policy support to boost the demand for green technology.
     An International GreenTech Week would be organised at the end of this year, inviting companies and investors from green technology industries worldwide.
     The digital economy will play "a crucial role in the course of achieving high-quality development," said Mr Chan.
     The Financial Secretary, who chairs the Digital Economy Development Committee, said in-depth studies are being conducted on various elements of the digital economy and that recommendations would follow this year.
     These include a feasibility study on the establishment of an Artificial Intelligence Supercomputing Centre. Adequate computing infrastructure, said Mr Chan, "is a prerequisite for promoting the development of scientific research and artificial intelligence industries in Hong Kong."
     In addition, $500 million has been set aside for the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) to launch a Digital Transformation Support Pilot Programme to expedite the pace of digital transformation among companies. Under the initiative, subsidies will be provided on a one-to-one-matching basis to help small and medium enterprises apply ready-to-use basic digital solutions.
     Cyberport established the Web3 Hub@Cyberport early this year. The Financial Secretary is allocating $50 million to expedite the Web3 ecosystem development. Mr Chan said that Web3, the third-generation Internet, has huge potential. "We must seize this golden opportunity and keep up with the times to spearhead innovation development."
     Virtual assets (VA) are an essential part of Web3, said Mr Chan, adding that he will lead a task force on VA development to "provide recommendations on the sustainable and responsible development of the sector."
     To realise Hong Kong's vision of becoming an international I&T hub, the Financial Secretary said that Hong Kong must "pool the efforts of government, industry, academic and research sectors to commercialise research and development results, and promote the development of the I&T industry."
     To that end, the Financial Secretary said that of the $10 billion earmarked in his previous Budget to promote life and health technology, $6 billion would be set aside to help universities and research institutes develop thematic research centres. Those interested in creating a life and health technology research institute will be invited to submit proposals in 2023-24.
     "Microelectronics is the core technology in high-tech and information industries," said Mr Chan. He added that the Government will support the establishment of a Microelectronics Research and Development Institute, with the aim of making it a leading organisation for supporting microelectronics development in the Asia-Pacific region.
     The Financial Secretary said that Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) would inject $400 million into its Corporate Venture Fund to benefit more promising technology start-ups. HKSTPC will also launch a $110 million Co-acceleration Programme in collaboration with partners to expand high-potential technology start-ups into regional or global enterprises.
     In addition, Mr Chan earmarked $265 million for Cyberport to help launch a dedicated incubation programme for smart living start-ups. A maximum grant of $500,000 will be offered to each approved start-up, together with targeted professional support and counselling. It is expected that about 90 start-ups will benefit from the programme each year over the next five years.
     Mr Chan said that Hong Kong must make better use of its "unique advantages under 'one country, two systems' to fully grasp the Mainland's enormous market, bring together local and overseas talents, capital and other resources, and to attain mutual benefits that can be shared by everyone and bring about better development for everyone under the operation of an open economy."
     For more details on the 2023-24 Budget, click here.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 13:22
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