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Budget Speech


Supporting Small and Medium Enterprises

70.    SMEs are an important pillar of Hong Kong's economy and employment market.  They form the majority of enterprises in Hong Kong and employ over 1.2 million people or half the private-sector workforce.  In the face of persistently weak export markets and a challenging external environment, we shall assist SMEs in six areas to help them raise capital and tap new markets:

(a) I propose to extend the application period for the special concessionary measures under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme for one year to the end of February 2014.  Last year, the Government provided a total guarantee commitment of $100 billion for the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited to introduce special time-limited concessionary measures to offer guarantees with a higher guarantee ratio of 80 per cent at a concessionary fee rate.  Introduced in May 2012, the measures have been well received by the trade.  Up to end-January, over 5 400 applications have been approved, benefiting more than 4 000 enterprises with total loan guarantee of more than $24 billion.
(b) We shall continue to make use of the $1 billion BUD Fund set up last June to assist Hong Kong enterprises to enhance their competitiveness in the Mainland through upgrading and restructuring, developing brands and promoting domestic sales in the Mainland.  The Fund has since received more than 500 applications.
(c) The HKTDC will set up more Design Galleries in Mainland cities other than Beijing and Guangzhou to offer platforms for Hong Kong enterprises, especially SMEs, to showcase their products.  This will help Hong Kong enterprises gain access to the Mainland market and build up greater awareness of Hong Kong brands there.
(d) I propose to increase the cumulative amount of the grant for SMEs under the SME Export Marketing Fund from $150,000 to $200,000, subject to the meeting of relevant additional conditions.  The Fund subsidises SMEs' export promotion activities, including trade fairs, exhibitions, business missions and advertising.
(e) On 1 March, the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC) will introduce a "Small Business Policy" (SBP) scheme for Hong Kong enterprises with an annual business turnover of less than $50 million, providing exporters with more flexibility in taking out insurance cover.  Within a period of two years from 1 March 2013, SBP policyholders will enjoy waiver of the annual policy fee and up to 20 per cent premium discount.
(f) On 1 March this year, the ECIC will upgrade the ratings of Turkey and the Philippines following the rating upgrades countries including Russia, Indonesia and Peru last year.  The ECIC will raise the insurance limits of these countries accordingly, and provide higher credit limits and lower premium rates for exporters to these countries.

71.    I hope that these six support measures for SMEs will help keep their business running, create more employment and enhance our people's job security.



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