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"Letter of Intent" signed for HKSAR's second stage reconstruction work in Sichuan (with photos)  
   

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Sichuan Provincial People's Government today (March 27) signed the "Letter of Intent on HKSAR's Second Stage Work in Support of Restoration and Reconstruction in the Sichuan Earthquake Stricken Areas" in Chengdu.

The signing was attested by the Executive Vice-governor of the Sichuan Provincial Government, Mr Wei Hong, and the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs of the HKSAR Government, Mr Stephen Lam. The two sides also exchanged copies of "Project Co-operation Arrangements" for some of the first stage projects.

"Letter of Intent on Second Stage Work"
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The HKSAR Government and the Sichuan Provincial People's Government signed the "Co-operation Arrangement on HKSAR's Support for Restoration and Reconstruction in the Sichuan Earthquake Stricken Areas" on October 11, 2008, which provides the framework for co-operation on matters such as the basic principles, 20 first stage reconstruction projects, project and fund management arrangements, as well as the liaison and co-ordination mechanism.

On February 20 this year, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council (Legco) agreed to increase the existing commitment of $2 billion by $4 billion to a total of $6 billion, and inject the sum into the "Trust Fund in Support of Reconstruction in the Sichuan Earthquake Stricken Areas" to take forward HKSAR's second stage reconstruction support work. On the basis of the co-operation arrangement, the Sichuan and Hong Kong Governments have agreed on 103 projects for implementation in the second stage.

The main objective of signing the "Letter of Intent on Second Stage Work" is to set out the initial agreement of the Hong Kong and Sichuan sides, and HKSAR Government’s intent on the second stage reconstruction support work to take the matter forward. The 103 reconstruction support projects initially identified for implementation in the second stage cover 52 education, 21 medical and rehabilitation, seven social welfare and 23 Wolong Nature Reserve related projects. The HKSAR Government will liaise closely with the Sichuan side to further refine the scope and estimated costs of these projects. The maximum total commitment of the HKSAR Government for the second stage projects is about $3.8 billion. In line with the "Government-led, full community involvement" spirit, the HKSAR Government will approach the Hong Kong Jockey Club and some commercial enterprises and encourage them to sponsor some of the projects. The overall objective is to utilise the existing available resources under the Fund to implement all the concerned projects.

"Project Co-operation Arrangement"
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Apart from signing the "Letter of Intent on Second Stage Work", the Sichuan and Hong Kong sides today also exchanged "Project Co-operation Arrangements" for 13 of the first stage reconstruction support projects. The reconstruction works supported by the HKSAR will be implemented on a project basis. The two sides will sign a "Project Co-operation Arrangement" for each reconstruction support project, which sets out the project scope, planning and technical standards, project milestones, funding transfer arrangements, and detailed arrangements on project management, supervision and monitoring. The signing of "Project Co-operation Arrangements" will further facilitate the implementation of the reconstruction projects and help ensure proper, effective and efficient use of the HKSAR's reconstruction support funds.

Fund application
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The Government has reserved $150 million from the Legco's approved additional commitment of $4 billion for Hong Kong non-governmental organisations to apply for grants from the fund to take forward their proposed reconstruction projects. The Fund Secretariat and the relevant bureaus will continue with the related application assessment work. Interested organisations should submit their applications to the fund as soon as possible. The next round of assessment work is expected to be conducted in mid-May. Application forms and the guidelines for grants can be downloaded from the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau's website (This link will open in a new windowwww.cmab.gov.hk).

While in Chengdu, Mr Lam also met the Executive Vice-governor of Sichuan Provincial Government, Mr Wei Hong, and officials from the relevant departments of the Sichuan Provincial Government. Representatives of the Sichuan side updated the Hong Kong side on the progress of reconstruction work in the earthquake-stricken areas, and the project management and auditing work relating to the reconstruction projects.

The "Letter of Intent on Second Stage Work" was signed today by the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Joshua Law, and the Director of the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission, Mr Liu Jie.

Ends/Friday, March 27, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:34

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