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Mandelson to re-target DTI handouts on e-commerce ventures

White Paper to boost plan to make UK world's number one e-commerce market

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Trade and Industry secretary Peter Mandelson is to reshape the Department of Trade and Industry's $1 billion budget to provide better support for e-commerce, it has emerged. Changes due to be revealed in next Wednesday's white paper on competitiveness will redirect funds to promote the Internet and "modernise the micro-economy". Mandelson's new industrial strategy encourages companies to upgrade their businesses using "knowledge-based" ideas. The cash jiggle may be at the expense of relocation projects for big businesses, an area the department now spends £100-£200 million a year. A DTI representative refused to reveal how the e-commerce ideas would be implemented, but said the government aimed to make the UK the best country to do e-businesses in by 2002. He admitted there was a long way to go, saying: "In some areas we do lag behind other countries. But this whole initiative isn't just about pumping money into training programmes, it includes getting kids in schools more clued up about computers." ®

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