(26 February, 2020, Hong Kong) The Financial Secretary Paul Chan today released the 2020-21 Budget, in which a number of new measures were announced to support the IT sector, including more subsidies under the Technology and Voucher Programme, expanding the Researcher Programme, Postdoctoral Hub and Public Sector Trial Scheme, and more internship opportunities for STEM students.
IT Legislative Councilor Charles Mok welcomed the Budget has adopted some of his policy proposals but it has not addressed some imminent threats. “Some IT workers might face layoff especially those jobs with temporary contracts. The government needs to assist in the upskilling of IT workers to raise their competitiveness,” said Mok.
He believed the additional subsidies for the Technology Voucher Programme can help SMEs to procure the hardware and software they needed to implement flexible work arrangement for their staff but the government needs to expedite the application and vetting procedures. Mok pointed out that the Budget this year has not mentioned any support to facilitate the participation of SMEs in the government tenders. He called on the government to improve on the Smart Government Innovation Lab to advance the development of e-procurement services. And in response to the impact brought by the coronavirus, Mok expressed concerns that many SMEs are encountering cash flow problems and urged the government to fasten the payment to vendors and service suppliers.
A number of items in the InnoTech section of 2020-21 Budget were already covered in the Policy Address announced last year, Charles Mok said the measures announced this year focused more on short-term relief rather than offered a strategy for sustainable growth in our innovation and technology industries. “The government must continue to create market demand for innovation, generate more quality job opportunities, encourage enterprises to hire and invest in their talents, in order to support the IT sector in this challenging economic environment and stimulate growth in the sector,” said Mok.
With regard to the arrangement of $10,000 handout to Hong Kong citizens, Charles Mok called on the government to simplify the procedures through online banking and expedite the release of funds. In the Budget speech, the Financial Secretary mentioned the OECD is exploring the proposal of setting rules for imposing a global minimum tax rate, Charles Mok expressed the concerns of overseas businesses with operation in Hong Kong over how this will impact Hong Kong’s global competitiveness. He noted that while tax rates and fiscal stimulus are important, maintaining Hong Kong’s free flow of information and the rule of law remain crucial for future economic and social development.