BizMagnet TVP consultant received inquiries recently if we can provide TVP quotation. The answer is NO, because BizMagnet is not an IT system supplier. BizMagnet is a government funding consultancy to offer TVP consultation. We are clear about our role to clients. However, some participants in the industry, no matter IT solution provider or TVP consultant, are quite confusing in their role and responsibility. For example, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software company emphasizes that they can help clients to apply for the TVP on the website, or a TVP consultant may sell IT system to clients etc. Moreover, some consultants or suppliers may offer “no-win, no fee” package, and carve up clients’ subsidy once the TVP application is successful.
A professional TVP consultant should advice clients independently. If the consultant is also a TVP supplier, this results conflict of interest and the advice can no longer be just. More than that, a supplier should not involve in procurement while a consultant needs to give opinion to procurement whenever necessary. This, again, is a conflict.
Contrary to Competition Ordinance, both will be blacklisted
A TVP supplier helps to collect quotations required by the procurement procedure and manipulate the quotation price to guarantee the result. This is in contrary of the First Conduct Rule of the Competition Ordinance, and the Competition Commission may prosecute the offenders. Once found guilty, the court will penalize the supplier and the government will make a “bad record”. If the client knows about the bid rigging, it may be blacklisted. For instance, in the YWCA case (Case No.: CTEA1/17), 4 IT companies were found guilty of anti-competition.1 It is almost sure that these 4 companies cannot be a TVP suppliers anymore.
Be careful of “No-win, no fee”
A columnist said that agency fraud exists for long time. TVP agents promote IT systems to SMEs who are not familiar with technology. They may purchase unsuitable solutions and the agents then carve up the subsidy.2 We should understand there is no free lunch, the “no-win no fee” game may lead to resource mismatch. When the companies need IT systems in the future, there may be no more subsidy available. Other than that, a blacklisted company is very difficult to apply for government funding. Therefore we should select consultation service very carefully. If you have any questions about government funding, please contact BizMagnet for further inquiries.
Related article: Government Fund Fraud – You will pay for it
- (2019) First two Judgments in the history of Hong Kong competition law – four IT firms and ten renovation contractors found guilty, Deacons, https://www.deacons.com/news-and-insights/publications/competition-judgement.html
- (2020)(Chinese only)【START噏人話】科技中介呃資助早存在 薛永恒「攬炒」為立功, 蘋果日報, https://hk.appledaily.com/finance/20200620/6UPR3WWY3CGNBTYYFLUDFBPW3I/