Budget 2019 Recommendations: Support business transformation

SBF’s SME Committee recommends that Budget 2019 focuses on supporting businesses for transformation and growth

As SMEs continue to transform and digitalise in the face of uncertainty, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) is recommending that this year’s Budget offers more support in these areas.

In January, the SBF SME Committee (SMEC) proposed seven key recommendations to support SMEs in internationalisation, technology adoption, manpower development, competitiveness, cost and access to government support. These recommendations are made with inputs from 14 major Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs).

These recommendations dovetail with the SBF National Business Survey 2018/2019, which found that SMEs would welcome help to transform their businesses.

Budget Recommendations

Here are some highlights of the SBF SMEC Budget 2019 recommendations. To read the complete recommendations, click here.

1. Increasing SMEs’ Competitiveness for Projects

To help SMEs develop their capabilities by participating in government projects, the committee recommends the setting up of a procurement platform for Government-linked companies to enhance the information efficiency of their procurement opportunities to SMEs.

2. Coping with manpower shortfall

To deal with the labour crunch, the committee recommends no further tightening of foreign manpower quotas and changes to the foreign worker levies in technical sectors such as precision engineering.

3. Helping SMEs with Enterprise and Technology Road-Mapping

Enterprise and technology road-mapping will help SMEs in adopting new technology and developing strategies to achieve their business goals. Government agencies can work closely with TACs to support SMEs in these areas.

4. Creation of an SME Week to Consolidate Resources and Facilitate Learning

To streamline the many assistance activities for SMEs, SMEC recommends appointing a lead government agency or a TAC to organise a “SME Week” that will facilitate in-depth learning, showcase solutions for enterprise adoption, and provide networking opportunities for both local and overseas businesses.

5. Formation of Overseas Nodes to Help Local SMEs Internationalise

The SMEC recommends providing TACs with the resources to organise overseas Singapore business communities and relevant business groups as overseas points that local SMEs can leverage to facilitate easier market entry. This could involve working through appointed lead TACs to serve as the go-to party for selected markets.

6. Refining Government SME Grant Processing Criteria and Application Process

To help with the complex schemes and grants for business, the committee recommends that the Government develops info-maps of support schemes and grants to better help SMEs understand and leverage the available government assistance to transform and grow.

7. Help with Rising Business Costs

The SMEC recommends introducing support measures to help SMEs mitigate the cost of retaining and training mature workers by subsiding or finding ways to lower the medical insurance cost of matured workers, for example.

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