HK Budget 2017: Huge IT funds not backed by concrete initiatives

(from left) iProA's Witman Hung; HKCS' Michael Leung; Legco's Charles MokThe Hong Kong Budget 2017-18 announced yesterday reflected the Government's intention to support the development of innovation and technology (I&T), by allocating "lots of money" to the ICT industry, but regrettably lacked concrete new initiatives to support the causes, said local IT experts, who gave an average score of 6.4 out of 10.

More specifics for HK$10 billion spending

The HK$10 billion earmarked for I&T development was the single biggest sum announced yesterday. Despite this welcoming proposal, local IT experts were generally disappointed at the sheer lack of specifics as to how this huge sum will be spent.

Witman Hung (pictured, left), president of iProA said the association supported this direction, but was concerned about the allocation of the sum. "Should it be used for facilitating the smart city development, investing in the development of disruptive technologies or upgrading of facilities or ICT infrastructure?" he queried. "We hope ITB can give us more concrete and detail plan and related budget."

Hung scored the ICT-related Budget proposals 7 marks out of 10.

Similarly, Legislative Councilor (IT Functional Constituency) Charles Mok (pictured, right) questioned the allocation of the HK$10 billion. "Without the details, it is unclear how this will benefit the sector and the ICT professionals."

Mok scored the ICT-related Budget proposals 5 marks out of 10.

In a similar note, Michael Leung (pictured, middle), president of Hong Kong Computer Society, also chief information and operations officer of China CITIC Bank International, was disappointed at the absence of details in this HK$10 billion funding proposal.

"This is of course a welcoming proposal. But this is also something what we call 'a grand standing.' The lack of details is inviting questions from the Legco members: 'Who will look after the HK$10 billion? How will the Government allocate the sum? What criteria will it adopt?'"

Leung said the HK$10 billion fund is best used in two areas: 1) to cultivate IT talent; and 2) to support local ICT startups and enterprises. "It is important that the Government encourages local enterprises to use locally developed products and solutions, in the form of subsidy.

Leung scored the ICT-related Budget proposals 7-7.5 marks out of 10.


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