Support for small and medium enterprises
SME Financing Guarantee Scheme
In response to Mr CHAN Chun-ying’s enquiry about the number of SMEs successfully obtaining loans from the loan guarantee products under SFGS, ED/CEO, HKMC advised that over 11 000 enterprises had obtained loans from the 80% and 90% Guarantee Products, involving over 250 000 employees, whereas over 2 325 enterprises had obtained loans from the Special 100% Guarantee Product, involving about 45 000 employees. At the request of Mr CHAN and with regard to the various loan guarantee products under SFGS, the Administration undertook to provide information on: (a) the number of SMEs successfully obtaining loans under one type of SFGS guarantee product; (b) the number of SMEs successfully obtaining loans under more than one type of SFGS guarantee product; and (c) the average total loan amount obtained by each SME under (a) and (b) respectively
SME Export Marketing Fund
Mr CHAN Chun-ying recognized the efforts by CEDB in supporting SMEs to tide over the hard times, and urged CEDB to assess the outcome of their efforts. Mr CHAN noted that under EMF, the number of applications received from August 2018 to April 2020 had increased by 27% compared to the corresponding period in 2017 to 2019; and the total funding approved during the period had also increased by 59%. He enquired about the rationale for setting the overlapping timeframe for compiling the applications figures; and the corresponding comparative figures for 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
Director-General of Trade and Industry advised that a number of enhancements had been introduced to EMF since August 2018, including the two funding injections of a total of HK$2 billion. The current approach of presenting the applications figures was to highlight the positive effect of the enhancements on the number of applications. In fact, the funding approved per enterprise had seen an increase when the cumulative funding ceiling per enterprise had been raised from HK$200,000 to HK$400,000 (after the first funding injection) and then to HK$800,000 (after the second funding injection). Enterprises were also given the option to apply for an initial payment of up to 75% of the approved funding for their planned export promotion activities. TID noted that since the implementation of the enhancements under the two funding injections, over 20% of the applications had come from new applicants. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, in the first four months of 2020, the number of applications approved (over 3 500) and the amount of funding approved (over HK$86 million) had both seen increases over the same period of 2019, with the amount of funding approved recording an increase of 15%.
Technology Voucher Programme
Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that as at end April 2020, the Innovation and Technology Commission (“ITC”) had received a total of 4 089 applications under the Technology Voucher Programme (“TVP”) and approved 2 252 applications. Out of the total received applications, only 60%, i.e. 2 453 applications had so far been assessed by the TVP Committee. Mr CHAN urged the Administration to expedite the assessment work and enquired about the progress regarding the remaining 40% of the applications.
Commissioner for Innovation and Technology (“CIT”) advised that the number of applications for TVP had been increasing at a fast pace. In the financial year 2018-2019, 845 applications were received. The number of applications had more than doubled in 2019-2020 to 2 026. Among the 4 089 applications received as at end April 2020, 2 453 applications had been assessed by the TVP Committee. The vetting of the remaining applications was in progress. The processing time required for the vetting of the applications largely depended on whether sufficient supporting information could be provided by the applicants.
Researcher Programme and Postdoctoral Hub
Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that since February 2019, the Administration had introduced a number of enhancement measures to the Researcher Programme (“RP”) and Postdoctoral Hub (“PH”) but as at end April 2020, only 25 applications were received and four applications approved under the extended schemes. Mr CHAN enquired about the reasons for the low application rate.
CIT advised that the 25 applications received under the extended schemes as at end April 2020 referred to those applications received since 9 March 2020, when the funding scope of RP and PH was expanded to cover all technology companies conducting or planning to conduct R&D activities in Hong Kong. As at end April 2020, 4 910 RP applications involving a total funding of HK$1.33 billion had been approved; and 1 004 PH applications involving a total funding of HK$580 million had been approved.