The Government of Hong Kong SAR has rolled out a HK$137.5 billion package of anti-epidemic fund measures, objectives of which include helping businesses stay afloat and relieving their financial burdens. While some of the measures were designed specifically for specific business sectors, some are widely applicable and do not restrict the industry types.
This article will showcase some of the funding schemes that may be of your interest.
1. Wage Subsidy
Under the Employment Support Scheme (the “Scheme”), the Government will provide a wage subsidy to eligible employers to retain the latter’s employees and pay up to 50% of employees’ salaries for six months in two tranches, capped at HK$9,000 per employee per month. The application process is separated into two rounds. In the 1st round, applications would be starting from 25 May 2020 and the subsidies for the first tranche for June, July and August would be handed out to employers within 3 to 4 weeks of an application. Employers are allowed to apply for subsidies based on wages recorded in one of the months between December 2019 and March 2020 at their own choice.
Below are two undertakings that employers receiving the first tranche of subsidy have to comply with:
- They have to spend the whole subsidy on the salary of their staff in June, July and August 2020;
- The number of people who receive pay in June, July and August 2020, cannot be less than the number of employees in March 2020 – no matter if they were paid or not paid at all in March.
If the undertakings are breached, the unspent balance of the subsidy will be clawed back or a penalty shall be paid according to the size of staff force and the extent of staff reduction.
Besides eligible employers, self-employed persons who have set up an MPF account on or before March 31, 2020 and with that account remaining opened as of the same date may apply for a one-off subsidy of $7,500.
2. Distance Business (D-Biz) Programme
The programme will provide funding support through fast-track processing for them to adopt IT solutions for developing distance business. For each IT solution and the relevant training expenses for staff, the funding ceiling is HK$100,000 (with funding for the relevant training expenses capped at 10% of the IT solution cost). Each company may receive total funding of up to HK$300,000 to perform a project to be completed within 6 months.
(i) For IT service providers
An IT Service Providers Reference List will be compiled to offer relevant market information for enterprise’ reference. The reference list is now open for application. Service providers, which provide solutions software or platform that support distance business operation, and/or provide services for the implementation of distance business solutions, are welcome to apply and enroll to such list.
(ii) For other businesses interested in adopting IT solutions
All private enterprises that commenced business in 2019 or before and have substantial business operations in the industry related to their proposed IT projects may consider applying. Applications are now open until late October 2020 and are assessed on a case-by-case basis. The assessment criteria include:
- Relevance of the proposed project to the applicant’s business
- Reasonableness of the budget
- Reasonableness of the implementation details
- Capability of Service Provider(s)
In addition to the above two schemes, the Government has also announced other measures covering specific types of industries such as legal, real estate, banking and finance, aviation, transport, sports, catering, tourism and construction, focusing on job creation, job advancement and provision of financial relief.
What CW can do for you
CW can assist our clients with the application of the above two schemes including
- gathering the supporting documents,
- preparing and submitting the application, and
- tracking the application status.
Written by Toby Wong, China Consultancy Team, CW CPA