Paper for the PLC Panel on Financial Affairs
This paper provides a brief report on the 52nd Annual Meetings (Meetings) of the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) held in Hong Kong, covering the finance and outcome of the Meetings.
2.The Meetings are the annual convention of finance ministers, central bank governors and thousands of government officials of 181 member countries, usually held in Washington, DC where the headquarters of the organizations are based. Once every three years, these Meetings take place outside Washington, DC. The 52nd Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of WBG/IMF were held in Hong Kong from 23-25 September 1997.
3.The People's Republic of China is the host country while Hong Kong is the host city. The hosting of this prestigious event mainly aims to strengthen Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre. Moreover, this also enables financial leaders to witness the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong after 1 July 1997 under " One Country, Two Systems " .
4.Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) was designated in 1994 as the implementation agency to carry out the planning work of the 1997 Annual Meetings. A Steering Committee, chaired by the Financial Secretary, was formed to provide policy guidance on planning. HKMA also set up an Organizing Committee to enhance inter-departmental coordination. In view of the scope and complexity of the preparation work, a Planning Division was established within HKMA in mid-1995 to carry out this task which involves coordinating the provision of services and facilities for the Meetings, such as offices for delegates, a plenary hall and meeting rooms, equipment, furniture, telecommunication and other services, airport and security arrangements, transportation, hotel accommodation, social and cultural functions and press arrangements. We have also maintained close liaison with the Joint Secretariat of the WBG/IMF (JS) and the Central People's Government (CPG) respectively to ensure that the stringent and complicated requirements of the Meetings are met.
III.Registration of Participants
5. According to WBG/IMF, this year's Meetings were the largest in scale in terms of the number of registered participants totalling over 19,000. The following registration statistics - some 4,000 more than the previous records - provide a clear picture: -
|Press (including 998 local press)
|WBG, IMF and JS staff
|Executive Directors and the staff
|Spouses and companions
|Contractors and other local staff
6.Generally speaking, the participants included 300 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, 3,000 government officials, 4,000 Chief Executive Officers and financial bankers, 1,000 representatives of international organizations.
7.We helped the participants arriving at the airport to speed up the immigration, customs and transport arrangements. Some 250 VIP parties were given VIP treatment. Participants were generally pleased with the hospitality and the efficient services provided.
V.Hotel Accommodation for Participants
8.In accordance with established practices, hotel accommodation was arranged by JS for all participants other than Visitors. A total of 3,354 hotel rooms were allocated by JS. As for Visitors, hotel accommodation was arranged through an official agency appointed by HKMA. A total of 987 hotel rooms were taken up. Many hotels have achieved very high occupation rates during the Meetings period. This has generated a total income of about HK$200 million to Hong Kong's hotel industry.
VI.The Venue and Meeting Facilities
9.The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) (Phase I) and its new Extension (Phase II) was the venue for the Meetings. Over 900 temporary offices for delegations and staff, equipped with computers, telephones, machines and photocopiers were constructed for the use of the country delegates. Other support services were also provided within HKCEC. Such facilities - some of which were offered for the first time - included a mini-post office, courier counter, banking counters, IDD booths, real-time financial and news centre, electronic message centre, Hong Kong Display Centre, hospitality counter and medical room. The facilities were extremely well received and this helped project a high-technology image for Hong Kong.
10.The Meetings officially commenced on 23 September. At the Opening Ceremonies, Premier LI Peng, Chief Executive TUNG Chee-hwa, the Chairman of the Boards of Governors of the Meetings, the President of WBG and the Managing Director of IMF delivered their addresses. The Meetings received global coverage while their peripheral meetings had a special focus on Asia. WBG held a series of seminars to discuss the Chinese economy and its prospects to the year 2020 whereas IMF had one entitled " Asia and the IMF " to examine the role of the Fund in advancing marco-economic surveillance in Asia. An integral part of the Meetings was the Programme of Seminars held from 20 to 23 September. The theme of this year was " Asia and the World: Capital, Competitiveness and Community " . A series of country, regional, and thematic sessions and keynote seminars addressed Asia's finance and capital markets, infrastructure and developments for private investment. Attendance of most seminars and meetings was high and media coverage was very positive on Hong Kong.
11.There was controlled access into the Meetings venue. Only accredited persons could enter the venue. A barcoded access control system was introduced for the first time in the Meetings. Each participant's registration badge had his/her picture as well as a unique barcode on it. The barcoded badge was scanned at the security points and once scanned would produce the participant's picture and all other relevant information within 2 seconds. Flow in and out of the Meetings venue was smooth. The system was well appreciated by the participants from the security point of view.
12.A fleet of 250 saloon cars were secured through the sponsorship of Zung Fu Company Ltd to take the Heads of Delegations to and from the airport, Meetings venue and hotels during the hectic period. Shuttle buses also ran on a frequent, 12-hour basis to take participants from the Meetings venue to their hotels and vice versa.
13.A special traffic management scheme was put in place from 13 to 25 September to cater for the expected large volume of traffic during the Meetings period. A simple one-way gyratory system through Convention Avenue, Fleming Road and Harbour Road in a clockwise direction helped to increase the capacity of the roads and junctions in the area to cater for additional traffic and allow kerbside space for setting down/picking up activities arising from the Meetings. Generally speaking, the participants were impressed by the efficient transport services.
14.There were 3 Cultural Nights for the participants. On 22 & 23 September, there were concerts performed by the HK Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. On 24 September, there was a cultural show performed by the 'splendid China " troupe from Shenzhen. Participants were highly impressed by the programmes which reflected a combination of Chinese and Western culture.
15.A number of social events had also been organized for official participants, in accordance with past practices. These included an evening reception hosted by the Chairman of the Boards of Governors, the President of WBG and Managing Director of IMF on 21 September, a dinner reception for Governors and their spouses hosted by the Chinese Leader on 22 September and a cocktail reception hosted by the Chief Executive/Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on 23 September. Events were warmly received by the participants .
16.There was a four-day programme for the spouses of the official participants from 21 to 24 September. This programme included Morning Tai Chi, Hong Kong Island Tour, Ocean Park and Middle Kingdom Tour, a Talk on Pearls, Chinese cooking demonstration, visit to Tsui Museum of Art and the Museum of Tea Ware, etc. Spouses enjoyed thoroughly the attractive programmes which were very representative of the dynamic side of Hong Kong.
17.A total of 223 officers were deployed temporarily from various government departments and HKMA to perform the role of Liaison Officers, who have impressed the participants enormously with their hospitality and efficiency. They were assigned to escort the delegates from the 181 member countries of WBG/IMF and leaders of 10 international financial institutions during their stay in Hong Kong. This also promotes better understanding about Hong Kong.
18.275 students were recruited from local and overseas universities to work as Student Ambassadors during the Meetings. They were deployed to help in a wide range of activities, including enquiry services, reception of guests, special functions such as Opening Ceremonies, social events, registration, etc. The students have benefited considerably in gaining exposure and experience in meeting international delegates.
19.The Legislative Council approved a sum of HK$485 million for the event. With prudent and tight control exercised by HKMA, the estimated expenditure on the whole event would only amount to HK$418 million. We have been conscious of the need to reduce public expenditure. Cost-effective approaches have been adopted. Efforts have also been made to secure sponsorship from the private sector and relevant organisations such as HKTDC and HKTA. An advisory committee was set up in 1996 to seek sponsorship from the community. As a result, we have obtained sponsorship of about HK$46 million in cash and about HK $26 million in kind from various sectors. The net expenditure which has to be met from the public purse is about HK$346 million. A total saving of about HK$139 million is achieved. A summary of the estimated expenditure is at the Appendix. On income, the Meetings have also gained substantial benefits, particularly on tourist business. Based on some rough figures obtained from the Joint Secretariat of the WBG/IMF and subsequent discussion with the Hong Kong Tourist Association, we estimated that about HK$400 million tourism income had been generated for Hong Kong.
XVI.Evaluation and Conclusion
20.The 1997 Annual Meetings - the largest Government conference ever held in Hong Kong - are regarded as highly successful. Many considered this being the best organized Meetings ever, as observed by Mr James Wolfensohn, President of the WBG, on the closing of the event. The WBG and the IMF are completely satisfied with what they described as " perfect organization " ; expressing gratitude to the Chinese Government and the HKSAR for such exceptional hospitality. The Secretary of the WBG personally thought that Hong Kong had set a high standard which would be impossible to measure up to in future Meetings. Comments from other participants of the Meetings including those of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors are also highly favourable, praising the " excellent facilities " in the venue and the " flawless efficiency " of the Hong Kong people.
21.With the gathering of almost all the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the world in Hong Kong, the Meetings provided a valuable opportunity to show Hong Kong's stability and prosperity to these influential opinion formers. Many participants as well as journalists have taken home the impression after the Meetings that " hardly anything has changed after 1 July 1997 " ; that Hong Kong is prosperous as before, and that the policy of " one country, two systems " works well here. The city is now better recognized as a dynamic, vibrant society with a prosperous future.
22.The CPG is also satisfied with all arrangements. The Meetings have helped strengthen the image of the Mainland in the international financial community as well as Hong Kong's role as an international financial centre.
23.Apart from boosting local and international confidence in Hong Kong, the holding of the Meetings in Hong Kong has brought considerable economic benefits in terms of additional tourism and related receipts resulting from the very large number of delegates and visitors coming to Hong Kong for the Meetings. Overall, the Meetings successfully showcased Hong Kong's prosperity and stability under the " One Country, Two Systems " principle.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority