Charles Mok urges the Financial Secretary to step up support to SMEs and workers
(18th February, 2020) IT Legislator Charles Mok yesterday issued his policy proposal to the Financial Secretary on the 2020-21 Budget with 33 policy suggestions to support the IT sector, SMEs and also the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Mok proposed injecting $500 million to the government’s Innovation and Technology Support Programme to aid the research and development programmes that are related to coronavirus. Another focus of this year’s proposal seeks to help the sector and local businesses get through the current tough time, suggestions include extending the rental concession for tenants in the Cyberport and Science Park, increasing the subsidies under the Technology Voucher Programme for SMEs to apply technology in adopting flexible working arrangement.
This year, Mok continued to push for the support in training more technology talents and creating better jobs for the IT profession. He called for the Researcher Programme and Postdoctoral Hub to further extend the coverage to SMEs hiring IT-related talents and graduates. He also urged for a $500-million funding for the upskilling of the IT taskforce, and to provide tax deduction and incentives to companies in training high-skilled technology workers and foster the development of knowledge-based economy in Hong Kong.
As for other training support, Mok suggested raising the deduction ceiling of the expenses of self-education from the current $100,000 to $130,000, and offering an additional $10,000 training subsidy to active users of the Continuing Education Fund.
“Facing stiff challenges to our economy this year, the government coffer should provide effective support to SMEs with cash flow problems, especially those in the technology sector. In addition to the temporary measures, I urge the Financial Secretary not to overlook the focus on nurturing technology talents and assisting local companies in digital transformation so that Hong Kong can remain competitive even in hard times,” Mok remarked.
Key policy suggestions to the 2020-21 Budget:
War on coronavirus
Injection of $500 million to the government’s Innovation and Technology Support Programme to aid the research and development programmes that are related to coronavirus.
Provide subsidies through the Community Care Fund to grassroot families for support in procuring protective masks, sanitisers and other healthcare products.
Boosting economy growth and employment
Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science Park to extend the 50% concession on rental to the end of 2020 for all their commercial tenants and start-ups.
Increase the subsidies under the Technology Voucher Programme and expedite the vetting in order for SMEs to apply technology for staff to adopt flexible working arrangement.
Further extend the coverage of the Researcher Programme and Postdoctoral Hub to SMEs hiring IT-related talents and graduates.
Upskilling of the IT workforce
Set aside a $500-million funding to assist the upskilling of the IT workforce in order to provide IT workers and those in the R&D field an one-off $5000 training subsidy for them to take up studies or examinations.
Provide 100% tax deduction to companies for the expenses induced in offering training to staff in a bid to nurture more high-skilled workers and for driving towards a knowledge-based economy.
Raising the deduction ceiling of the expenses of self-education from the current $100,000 to $130,000, and allowing applicants to receive subsidies for courses taken up in the last two years.
Offering an additional $10,000 training subsidy to active users who have utilised the Continuing Education Fund in the last three years.
Applying technology in district works
A $500-million funding to help the 18 District Councils to adopt more technology solutions to help with the district works and improve on the transparency and publishing of data.