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Transformation – key to business development in Singapore

Emerging Stronger – “Stronger through Transformation” was the theme of the speech made by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State and Industry during the Committee of Supply Debate on Tuesday.

He reflected on his speech from last year which was based on ‘3 Ups’: Level Up, to strengthen enterprise and workforce capabilities; Scale Up, to help enterprises grow locally and abroad; and Team Up, to enable enterprises to achieve better outcomes together and then outlined what the Government has been doing and is going to do in order to achieve these goals.

Government Support already in place to help SME’s on transformation journey

Currently, companies can benefit from many government-led initiatives to help businesses such as free subscription under the Start Digital pack for six months, to access more customers through digital marketing and e-commerce. They could also receive up to $30,000 in support from the Productivity Solutions Grant to implement inventory and fleet management solutions.

Companies could also apply for up to $100,000 from the enhanced Market Readiness Assistance programme for each new market the business is expanding into. Businesses can also receive SkillsFuture support for up to 90% of course fees to upskill their employees.

“Enterprise Singapore supported more than 13,000 projects from over 11,000 enterprises last year. These will generate $17.3 billion in value-add and create 21,700 new PMET jobs, and also positive outcomes for existing workers” said Mr Chee Hong Tat.

SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit to help with Transformation costs

The Government announced in the budget that they are introducing the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit. Each eligible employer will be given $10,000 in credits, valid for 3 years from 1 April 2020, to cover up to 90% of out-of-pocket expenses for enterprise and workforce transformation programmes. This will benefit over 35,000 enterprises, which hire more than 1.5 million local workers.

Firms can benefit from the credit by offsetting out-of-pocket costs for transformation projects. This is above the 70% co-funding support under the Enterprise Development Grant and Productivity Solutions Grant. They can also use the credit to help them redesign jobs under the enhanced Productivity Solutions Grant, and redeploy workers to more productive and meaningful roles. Businesses can also use the Credit to send their workers for approved training courses, including Design-related courses.

Improving Public Service Support for Enterprises

The Government are further developing GoBusiness to be the platform for enterprises to transact with the Government. Through GoBusiness, a company will be able to check such information by entering its postal code to find out which agency to approach, and the type of business activities already permitted on their premises.

The company does not need to apply for a licence if the activity is already permitted. This will save time and money. If a licence is required, the company can proceed to do so through the portal. The platform will also integrate other transactions beyond licensing, such as helping entrepreneurs to start new businesses and seek government assistance.

They also have plans to introduce an e-adviser. This is a joint project by MTI, GovTech and SNDGO, in collaboration with SME Centres and businesses. Instead of going through multiple sources to gather information on different government schemes, a company can visit the portal and answer a set of questions. The e-adviser will then recommend suitable schemes, based on what the company needs.

Improving Advisory Support for SMEs and Customised Support for Promising SMEs

The Minister also said that those who require further assistance can meet with a Business Advisor at an SME Centre. In 2019, the SME Centres assisted over 28,000 companies. The SME Centres will become partners for business growth, to provide more in-depth support for promising SMEs. Business Advisors will work with these enterprises to develop long-term business plans and chart the next steps.

Scale-up SG is for companies of different sizes and industries. Enterprise Singapore will look at the company’s track record, its commitment to grow its presence in Singapore, and the potential to create economic spin-offs for Singapore and to generate good jobs for Singaporeans.

Learning from the early success of Scale-up SG, Enterprise Singapore will launch a new Enterprise Leadership for Transformation Programme (“ELT”) later this year which was also mentioned as part of Budget 2020. ELT is a 3-year pilot programme that supports business leaders of promising SMEs to achieve their next round of growth. Applicants will be selected based on their demonstration of ambition and commitment, and their growth potential.

ELT will be designed and delivered together with partners such as the IHLs, professional firms and banks. The programme lasts about a year and includes business coaching and practical learning components. Participating local enterprises will receive up to 90% funding support for their programme fees.

Government encourages companies to Team Up to build deeper capabilities and accelerate growth

The third part of their strategy is Team Up. The Government encourages companies to Team Up to build deeper capabilities and accelerate their growth.

“When we work together with businesses to review our rules and regulations, the improvements will benefit many other enterprises. They can launch innovative ideas more quickly and lower their operating costs. Government agencies also benefit from having more efficient and business-friendly rules” said Mr Chee Hong Tat.

The Government role to be seen as a gate-keeper not a goal-keeper

The Minister said that “We see our role as a gate-keeper; not as goal-keeper. What’s the difference? A gate-keeper assesses the risk and decides who to let through and who to turn away. Whereas a goalkeeper’s mission is to prevent all balls from getting through. If we block all new ideas that push against our existing regulatory boundaries or have a risk of failing, there will be no innovation.”

He added that “listening to feedback and being open to new ideas, feeling comfortable to take a calculated risk, and experimenting together with industry partners, to turn ideas into reality – These are important aspects of Public Service Transformation, in line with the SG Together movement.”

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