Speech at Panel on Commerce and Industry

Progress on the recent implementation of various new schemes under the Innovation and Technology Fund

Enterprise Support Scheme

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted the low approval rate of ESS applications at about 12.5% and enquired about the reasons behind. Expressing a similar concern, Dr CHIANG Lai-wan enquired about the high withdrawal rate of ESS applications, which accounted for about 33.7% of the total number of applications. Dr CHIANG requested the Administration to keep track of the performance of the ESS projects to facilitate assessment of the effectiveness of the scheme, and provide the Panel with the relevant information.

CIT said that some applications were withdrawn because they were outside the funding scope of ESS while quite a number of the applications were rejected on the ground that they did not comprise any R&D element. The Administration would make further effort to help applicants understand the overall objectives, assessment criteria, application procedures and requirements of ESS by enhancing the information content of the scheme detailed in ITC’s website. She added that applicants, upon submission of all the required information and documents, would in the fastest cases be notified of the vetting results in around 2 months.

Internship Programme

Mr CHAN Chun-ying relayed the industry’s views that since the current level of internship allowance was below market level by 30% to 50%, organizations and companies had encountered difficulty in retaining local graduates who were employed as interns under the Internship Programme to assist in their R&D projects based on such a salary level. Mr CHAN urged the Administration to consider enhancing the funding mechanism of the Internship Programme by introducing end-of-contract gratuity for interns to enhance the attractiveness of the funding programme.

CIT said that the internship allowance for graduates with a Bachelor’s degree and those with a Master’s or higher degree were $14,000 and $16,500 respectively. Each project could engage up to two interns at any one time for a maximum period of 24 months. The organizations or companies concerned could top up the salary of interns if they so wished. CIT added that the internship  allowance for graduates would be reviewed from time to time having regard to the general inflation rate and market pay position. In this connection, Mr CHAN Chun-ying advised that the Administration should review the level of internship allowance at a more frequent interval to ensure that it would be on a par with market level. CIT took note of Mr CHAN’s views.