Developers hoping to build a Chinese-medicine port are unlikely to receive a Government subsidy in the form of land grants for the project, according to Director-General of Industry Francis Ho Suen-wai. 'This is a matter of principle,' said Mr Ho. His remarks are the first indications of official intentions towards the project. 'Any plan that can help to promote the development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong would be welcomed by the Government,' Mr Ho said. But he said the Government hoped the project would focus on its industrial and business aspects rather than on property development. Mr Ho said several private enterprises had indicated their intention to build a Chinese-medicine port, but none of them had a concrete business plan on how to develop the industry in Hong Kong. The idea of building a Chinese-medicine port was initiated by developers in response to a call by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in his maiden Policy Address. However, after months of discussions, Mr Ho said most developers who expressed interest in the project were still at an exploratory stage and no proposals had yet been submitted to the Government. 'There is only one [developer] which has a more detailed plan, but its plan focused more on land uses rather than the industrial development,' he said, without naming the developer. Of those developers interested in the project, New World Development's (NWD) $20 billion plan to build the port beside the Science Park at Tolo Harbour was the most advanced and well-prepared. However, NWD had sought the Government's backing in the form of a land grant or favourable policies to attract investment from drugs firms. Other big developers, including Henderson Land Development, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Hutchison Whampoa have also expressed interest in the project. A Hong Kong-US consortium - Chung Wei Medicine Group - said it was preparing a $16.3 billion proposal, detailing plans to develop a world centre for Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. Mr Ho admitted that the research and development involved in the Chinese-medicine industry was commercially very risky, but he said it was not appropriate for the Government to subsidise commercial risks. He said the Government was now drafting specifications and guidelines for bidders.