Small and medium-sized firms have proposed that the government inject HK$200 million into a funding scheme to help them explore the untapped online market to weather the financial crisis. In a proposal tabled to the financial secretary for consideration in this month's budget speech, the Alliance for the Promotion of Digital Economy for Hong Kong SMEs suggested the government place an extra HK$200 million into the SME Export Marketing Funding Scheme. A total of HK$10.5 billion has been granted under the scheme to some 64,000 applicants. The alliance believes it is time to exploit the benefits of IT and online platforms as low-cost, efficient ways to raise productivity and efficiency during the economic downturn. 'Although Hong Kong has world-class network infrastructure, we lag behind Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in the adoption of trading through electronic means, commonly known as e-commerce,' the group said. Under the proposal, each company is allowed to receive up to HK$50,000 in reimbursement for online export marketing activities. About 5 per cent, or 5,000 of all trading companies in Hong Kong, are expected to benefit from the expanded scheme if additional funding is approved. A government spokeswoman said the proposal would be studied in detail. Legislator Samson Tam Wai-ho, who represents the IT sector, voiced support for the proposal.