Remote working has become increasingly popular in recent months due to COVID-19. As a response to these changing work environments, the Hong Kong government has been pushing out various initiatives to help businesses, such as the Employment Support Scheme. On 16 May 2020, details were provided of their Distance Business Programme (“D-Biz”), which helps Hong Kong companies adopt IT solutions that can facilitate remote working engagements. In this article, we look to answer common questions related to D-Biz.
What You Will Learn In This Article
1. What is D-Biz?
The D-Biz programme is a scheme launched by the Hong Kong government’s Innovation and Technology Commission (“ITC”) to help enterprises continue their business and services during COVID-19 through the adoption of IT solutions.
Each D-Biz applicant may only submit one application with the intention to adopt no more than three IT solutions. Each applicant may receive a total funding of HKD300,000, with each IT solution and relevant expenses for employees being capped at HKD100,000.
2. What Are The Eligibility Requirements?
All D-Biz applications must fulfill the following requirements:
- Registered in Hong Kong under the Business Registration Ordinance; and
- Not a listed company, statutory body, nor non-government organisation funded by the Hong Kong government; and
- The applicant has commenced business before 1 January 2020; and
- Has substantive business operations in Hong Kong
3. What is the D-Biz Funding Scope?
D-Biz will help fund projects related to the adoption of 12 categories of IT solutions. Prior approval must be obtained by ITC before the commencement of any project and the outcome of the project should have a direct impact on the applicant’s business and service operations in Hong Kong.
To support an application, applicants are required to provide a detailed budget of all costs to be incurred in the implementation of their project. The following expenses can be covered under the budget:
- Engagement of an IT service provider to help implement the IT solutions
- Purchase, rental or subscription of custom-built equipment / hardware, software and other IT services / solutions for a period of six months
- Purchase, rental or subscription of off-the-shelf equipment / hardware, software and other IT services / solutions for a period of six months
- Training expenses related to the adoption of the IT solution for employees (capped at 10% of the project cost)
- Audit fee for projects with approved funding exceeding HKD30,0000
4. What is the Application Procedure and Assessment Criteria?
D-Biz will begin accepting applications on their dedicated website, starting from 18 May 2020 to 31 October 2020. Upon submission of an application, the Hong Kong government or the Secretariat may request an applicant to provide additional information. To the extent that further information cannot be provided, an application will be deemed as incomplete and will not be processed until the applicant has provided all necessary information.
In addition, applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will be judged along the following criteria:
5. What do I Need to be Aware of When I Start My Project?
Firstly, all approved applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement with the Secretariat once an application has been approved. In addition, the project must be carried out in strict accordance with the funding agreement and application and it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure there is no non-compliance.
6. What are the Audit / Monitoring Requirements?
To help ensure that a project’s funds are being solely, and properly applied according to the terms of the funding agreement, an audited statement of income and expenditure detailing the whole project period is required for projects that have an approved funding amount that exceeds HKD30,000.
8. What are the Record Keeping Requirements?
To facilitate these random checks, approved applicants are required to maintain proper and separate books and records for each of their D-Biz programmes for seven years after the completion of these projects. The Hong Kong government or the Secretariat may request an applicant to produce these records upon request.
9. How Would the Hong Kong Government Conduct Their Audit Checks?
The Hong Kong government or the Secretariat will conduct random checks on applicants and the development of their projects to ensure that a high level of integrity has been maintained. They will do so by either requesting either the applicant to produce the above mentioned records, or by demanding the auditors to provide access to the project accounts and supporting statements for inspection.
10. What are the Auditor’s Responsibilities?
In addition to having to provide access to project accounts and supporting statements, auditors are required to produce an auditor’s report, expressing an audit opinion as to whether the applicant has complied with, in all material respects, with the terms and conditions of the D-Biz funding agreement and to make a full disclosure of any material non-compliance.
The FastLane Group is dedicated to helping SMEs in all aspects. Not only do we regularly provide updates / insights on the developments that affect the SME community, but we can also provide assistance in applying to D-Biz and other government support schemes such as ESS.
In addition, as a licensed Hong Kong CPA firm, the FastLane Group is qualified to help you adhere to the audit and monitoring requirements outlined under D-Biz. We can not only conduct your audit and liaise with government officials, but can also assist in your record keeping requirements. Please contact the FastLane Group for a quote!