LCQ14: Facilitating the architectural and engineering sectors to start business and practise in the Greater Bay Area Following is a question by the Hon Tony Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (January 27):
The Mainland authorities implemented on the 1st of this month the Interim Guidelines for the Management of Hong Kong Engineering Construction Consultant Enterprises and Professionals Starting Business and Practising in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Cities (the Interim Guidelines). According to the Interim Guidelines, consultant firms included in the List of Consultants of the Architectural and Associated Consultants Selection Board of the Architectural Services Department or the List of Consultants of the Engineering and Associated Consultants Selection Board of the Civil Engineering and Development Department of the Hong Kong Government, as well as professionals registered with the relevant professional registration boards in Hong Kong, may directly provide services in the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) by obtaining equivalent qualifications in the Mainland through putting on records. However, some members of the sectors have relayed that quite a number of eligible enterprises and professionals do not understand and are not even aware of the measure, and the Government has neither set up an enquiry hotline nor provided relevant information on the Internet. Moreover, quite a number of consultant firms which are small in scale, have been established for a short period or have undertaken few government projects are not on the aforesaid two lists, and hence are unable to benefit. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will step up efforts to publicise and explain to the architectural and engineering sectors the Interim Guidelines as well as other measures which are conducive to their development in the Greater Bay Area, and assist them in going through the relevant formalities with the Mainland authorities; and
(2) whether it will suitably relax the eligibility requirements for inclusion in the aforesaid two Lists or add a sub-group of small and medium enterprises and start-ups to the aforesaid two Lists, so as to allow more consultant firms to benefit from the Interim Guidelines?
Since the promulgation of the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) in February 2019, the rapid development of the cities of the Greater Bay Area has brought tremendous opportunities for Hong Kong's architectural and engineering sectors. In view of this, the Development Bureau (DEVB) has been proactively deliberating with the Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Guangdong Province (DHURD) to facilitate local enterprises and professionals of the construction and engineering sectors to start businesses and practise in the Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area through simple processes. With the concerted efforts of the parties concerned, the DHURD promulgated the Interim Guidelines for the Management of Hong Kong Engineering Construction Consultant Enterprises and Professionals Starting Business and Practising in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Cities (Interim Guidelines) through its official website in end November last year for implementation starting from January 1 this year. Under the Interim Guidelines, eligible local consultant firms and professionals (Note 1) can acquire corresponding qualifications in the Mainland by way of registration so that they can provide services in the Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area directly. We hope that the new measures can help the relevant enterprises and professionals in Hong Kong grasp the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, thereby giving important impetus to the development of the Greater Bay Area into a world-class bay area.
The Government's reply to the two parts of the question raised by the Hon Tse is as follows:
(1) During the formulation of the measures under the Interim Guidelines, we kept close contact with the sectors, including frequent consultation with the related professional institutions and trade associations, and conveyed their views to the Mainland authorities for consideration. After the official announcement of the Interim Guidelines in end November 2020, we disseminated immediately the message to all eligible consultant firms as well as the related professional institutions, trade associations and registration boards. We also set up a hotline and an email address to answer enquiries from relevant enterprises and professionals. In December 2020, we organised an online briefing jointly with the DHURD to explain the details of the Interim Guidelines and the registration method to the sectors. To enable more relevant professionals to understand the details of the Interim Guidelines, we are co-ordinating with the related professional institutions to hold two webinars early next month. In addition, we built a one-stop platform (www.devb.gov.hk/en/construction_sector_matters/service_promotion/gba/index.html) on the website of the DEVB for the purpose of sharing all the information of the new measures in the Greater Bay Area, including the Interim Guidelines in the nine Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area as well as the registration methods of Qianhai in Shenzhen and Hengqin in Zhuhai. The platform also provides links to relevant websites and tender notices of construction projects in the Mainland.
We will continue to publicise and promote the relevant measures to the sectors in the future, and will provide assistance to the enterprises and professionals concerned to make applications to the Mainland authorities if needed.
(2) The purpose of establishing the consultant lists under the Architectural and Associated Consultants Selection Board and the Engineering and Associated Consultants Selection Board is to strengthen the management of consultant firms that provide relevant professional services to government departments, with a view to ensuring the quality of services. Managed by the DEVB and the relevant works departments, the two lists are divided into different categories and groups according to various professional disciplines and company sizes respectively. The lists include small, medium and large consultant firms that shall meet certain entry requirements, including relevant experience, number of professionals and quality management.
We understand that when formulating the Interim Guidelines, the Mainland authorities reckoned that the two consultant lists administered by us are subject to a comprehensive and effective management system which is trustworthy. Hence, we consider it inappropriate to relax the entry qualifications or add new groups to the consultant lists at this stage. When the Interim Guidelines have been implemented for some time, we will review the details with the DHURD. Notwithstanding this, the new measures (Note 2) launched by Hengqin in Zhuhai in December 2019 allow consultant firms not on the above two lists but meeting certain qualifications to provide services in the Hengqin New Area after completing registration.
Note 1: Eligible enterprises are consultant firms on the lists of the Architectural and Associated Consultants Selection Board and the Engineering and Associated Consultants Selection Board managed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government; eligible professionals are professionals who have registered with relevant professional registration boards in Hong Kong and are employed by local consultant firms which have registered under the Interim Guidelines or by the Mainland enterprises with the pertinent qualifications.
Note 2: The new measures related to the Hengqin New Area are entitled Accreditation Requirements for the Qualifications of Hong Kong and Macao Construction and Related Engineering Consulting Enterprises and Professional Qualifications in the Hengqin New Area of Zhuhai Special Economic Zone. In addition to the firms on the lists of the Architectural and Associated Consultants Selection Board and Engineering and the Associated Consultants Selection Board, consultants registered with the relevant professional institutions and trade associations can also be benefited.
Ends/Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Issued at HKT 14:45