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HKMA Annual Report 1998

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) today (3 May 1999) published its Annual Report for 1998. The Report explains the HKMA's work and achievements over the past year and sets out the objectives for the year ahead.

"The HKMA faced more challenges in 1998 than in any year since its establishment in 1993," said Mr Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the HKMA, in his Statement in the Annual Report.

Mr Yam noted that during the past year much of the region continued to endure a prolonged recession, and the effects on Hong Kong were severe. As an open international financial centre, with a fixed exchange rate, Hong Kong was exposed to a succession of speculative attacks.

"Our financial system passed through its toughest ordeal in many years. Yet the system not only survived the ordeal undamaged: it was also strengthened by a number of measures implemented during the year," said Mr Yam.

Mr Yam noted that at the end of 1998, Hong Kong's linked exchange rate system was as solid as ever. Substantial improvements to the currency board system during the year made it much less susceptible to manipulation. Hong Kong's banking system remained one of the most resilient in the world.

"Continuing economic difficulties and unsettled global conditions require further patience and vigilance," said Mr Yam. "Recovery will take time and effort. But, while we must remain alert to present dangers, we also need to look beyond current problems and strive to obtain the greatest advantage from the technological, infrastructural and other changes that lie ahead."

"In 1998 we saw how many years of careful preparation equipped us to defend Hong Kong against problems that have overwhelmed many other monetary and banking systems. We also saw progress in a number of projects designed to prepare Hong Kong's monetary and banking systems for the challenges and opportunities of the next century," he added.

Mr Yam noted that the continued success of Hong Kong as an international financial centre depended on confidence in Hong Kong's free, open and well-regulated financial system. He added that the community, directly or through its representatives, had a legitimate part to play in shaping Hong Kong's broad monetary policies, and the HKMA has a duty not only to explain its work, but also to facilitate debate.

"Public support for our work and our policies can no longer be built merely on unquestioning faith in a remote and mystical monetary authority acting professionally in the best interests of Hong Kong: it must be fostered through explanation, education, and informed discussion," he said.

Looking forward, Mr Yam said: "For the time being, we must not only remain alert to further difficulties, but must also retain the initiative in the measures we take to develop Hong Kong as a global financial centre. When recovery does take place, I am confident that Hong Kong's monetary and banking systems, strengthened by the ordeal through which they have passed, will be ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that the new century holds in store."

Members of the public can read the HKMA Annual Report 1998 in major public libraries, on the HKMA's website and at the HKMA Resource Centre on the 8/F., Citibank Tower, 3 Garden Road, Hong Kong. The HKMA Annual Report 1998 can also be purchased at the Government Publications Centre or ordered direct from the HKMA at the price of HK$130.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority
3 May 1999

Last revision date: 1 August 2011
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