(19th June, 2020, Hong Kong) The Distance Business Programme has until now received over 13,000 applications since May 18 when the Programme was open to all eligible companies. However, only less than 200 applications were processed and approved to date.
Many companies complained about the prolonged vetting process and only received a fraction of the applied amounts. In a bid to gather useful statistics and comments on D-Biz, IT Legislator Charles Mok launched an online survey on June 13. Over a week, 304 responses were collected, including 158 D-Biz applicants and 146 IT service providers.
Majority of the views gathered expressed disappointment with the D-Biz Programme. As many cases showed that the final funding only represented a fraction of the applied amounts, many clients are therefore considering terminating the projects, leading to a waste of efforts and time IT service providers have contributed to the projects.
“D-Biz started with a good intention but the implementation of the programme is indeed creating lots of troubles to SMEs and service providers. The sheer number of applications suggest that D-Biz is in high demand, the government should immediately improve on the vetting process and inject an additional $1 billion to the programme to support SMEs and the ICT sector, “ said Mok.
Summary of the D-Biz Survey Report:
- Prolonged vetting process
75% of the respondents have yet received notifications from the HKPC, only 18 replied that they had received approvals, accounting to only 13% of the overall response.
- Approved funding is significantly lowered
Majority of the projects seek funding between $70,000 to $100,000. However, 78% of the approved projects only received between 10 to 30% of the applied amounts, meaning that most of the projects are receiving less than $30,000. As a result, 50% of the respondents replied that they are considering whether to continue with the projects.
- Increased workload for service providers
90% of the service providers participated in the survey have provided customised services to their clients on D-Biz, meaning a significant amount of company resources and staff costs were contributed to the programme but now they fear the efforts will be wasted. Half of the service providers from the survey are undecided whether to continue with their clients’ projects due to the low approval fundings.
Mok has submitted the survey report to the Hong Kong Productivity Council and will request a meeting to discuss the proper remedies for D-Biz implementation. “The government must inject additional funding to D-Biz, increase the manpower to expedite the vetting process and raise the approval amounts for each project,” said Mok.
Key recommendations from Charles Mok on D-Biz:
1. Injection of an extra $1 billion to D-Biz so more companies can receive support.
2. Hong Kong Productivity Council to increase the manpower on vetting and also an appeal system should be set up.
3. Eliminate the restriction that projects can only commence when funding is received.
4. More resources in place to handle queries and provide an estimated time of processing to companies.
5. Increase the transparency of the vetting process, and release more Q&A and share successful cases to help companies apply D-Biz.
6. The funding should directly transfer to IT service providers to address the cash flow problems.
7. Simplify the application process by loosening the conditions of obtaining two quotations.
8. Raise the approval funding for each project applied. If a project is only partially approved, the applicant should not be asked to obtain two quotations again but submit the final receipt.