Chamber urges action on high interest rates

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 April, 1998, 12:00am

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has urged the Government to look into the present high interest rates saying they make it difficult for members to gain funding.

Chairman James Tien Pei-chun said the chamber wanted action taken as soon as possible.

Speaking before the chamber's annual meeting yesterday, he said: 'We have raised our concerns that the high interest rates [are] something that the Government should look into.' Mr Tien said the Government and the Hong Kong Association of Banks should seek a way to reduce the prime rate to the level it stood at before the Asian turmoil.

He said the chamber was confident Hong Kong would be one of the first economies in the region to recover from the crisis, but warned high interest rates would delay recovery.

Mr Tien said the chamber maintained its 4 per cent GDP growth forecast for the year, but said the forecast was likely to be reduced as the year progressed.

He said: 'Given the numbers we have seen so far for the economy, we will be fortunate to see GDP growth of between 1 and 2 per cent in the first three months of the year.' Mr Tien said the chamber continued to support the Government's policy of defending the Hong Kong dollar peg despite the loss of competitiveness this caused.

After the meeting, Mr Tien was succeeded as chairman of the chamber by first vice-chairman Peter Sutch.

Mr Sutch, chairman of Swire Pacific and Cathay Pacific Airways, said his main concerns would be unemployment, tourism and the environment.

He said: 'There are a lot of things on the agenda but I have a great team to tackle them and we look forward to the challenges ahead.' Tung Chee-chen was elected to the newly created post of deputy chairman, and the two vice-chairmen positions were filled by Anthony Nightingale, of Jardine Matheson Holdings and Lily Chiang, of Chen Hsong Holdings.

An election was also held to fill six seats on the general committee.

Five of the six retiring members were re-elected, notably David Eldon, Hari Harilela, Daniel Koo, Denis Lee, Brian Stevenson and Henry Tang. They were joined by Christopher Cheng of Wing Tai Exporters, who was successful in gaining election.


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