The Hong Kong government is about to propose a youth business fund under HK$1 billion (US$128.95 million) with the aim of helping young people start their own business, Sing Tao Daily reported Friday.
The proposal is seen as a way to bridge the gap between the government and young people after the 79-day pro-democracy Occupy movement late last year, it said.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is expected announce the program in his annual policy address next week, the report cited unidentified sources as saying.
Under the program, applicants must submit their business plans to responsible non-government institutions for approval.
Once approved, each applicant can expect to receive funding in two parts.
One is a cash grant from the government, given on a case-by-case basis.
The other is the same amount in interest-bearing loans from the institution that approved the plan.
This is a one-time measure, and the funding from the government will come from the Home Affairs Bureau rather than from the budget set by the financial secretary, the report said.
Youth business funds are common in Hong Kong.
Many youth groups, including the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, the Hong Kong United Youth Association and The Y. Elites Association, have offered loan programs for some time. The government also launched a small-loan program in 2012 for a trial period of three years.
Addressing concerns that the new fund might be abused, a director at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups said it depends on how well the non-government institutions follow up on the cases approved by them, the report said.
He also said not all such institutions have enough capital to lend, and it would be better if they only acted as intermediaries for funding from the government.
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