Government paying close attention to companies' needs in uncertain climate: S. Iswaran 

SCCCI President Mr Thomas Chua (standing, third from left), Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung (standing, fourth from left), Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran (standing, fifth from left) and Labour ch
SCCCI President Mr Thomas Chua (standing, third from left), Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung (standing, fourth from left), Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran (standing, fifth from left) and Labour chief Chan Chun Sing (standing, sixth from right) at the annual Chinese New Year gathering at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.ST PHOTO: RUPALI KAREKAR

SINGAPORE - The Singapore government is paying close attention to the immediate needs of companies in an uncertain environment, and will continue to support trade associations, companies and people as they gear up for the future, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said on Saturday (Jan 28) on the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster.  

He said this year will pose its own challenges with continuing economic headwinds and an unpredictable global political climate, but expressed confidence that Singapore will face the many ups and downs with unity and resilience as it has done in the first five decades of its nationhood.

Mr Iswaran was speaking at the annual Chinese New Year gathering at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) which was attended by guests including labour chief Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, foreign diplomats, senior government officials, SCCCI members and leaders from the business, cultural and community organisations.  

“For Singapore to thrive as a place of opportunity, our people must be adaptable with deep skills, our enterprises innovative and nimble, and our economy open and connected,” he said, adding that care should be taken to ensure that the Republic's immediate needs do not blind it from fundamental long-term challenges.

“The challenge now lies in how we achieve and sustain these goals,” Mr Iswaran said adding that the soon-to-be-released report by the Committee on the Future Economy - which he also co-chairs - will focus on articulating economic strategies that positions Singapore well for the future.

Mr Iswaran called Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) key to Singapore’s economic renewal, and said he was encouraged by the SCCCI’s pre-Budget 2017 recommendations which aim to foster a pro-business environment.

SCCCI had, in its October 2016 report, said the government could be more flexible in helping smaller firms restructure and innovate, while giving trade associations greater support to drive industry development.  

“It is the dexterity, innovation capacity and scale of our SMEs that will underpin our ability to create value in future,” he said assuring the SCCCI that the government will work closely with it to help realise it.

He also added that the government is closely monitoring the outcomes of support systems put in place since last year, in response to SCCCI’s SME Survey 2016 which showed dampened business sentiments over costs and manpower, adding that SPRING and IE Singapore have supported many companies, trade associations and chambers in industry development ad internationalisation projects.  

He praised SCCCI for responding to the changing needs of Singapore’s industries and businesses by continually adapting itself, and said he looked forward to the continued support and partnership of SCCCI in future.

Mr Iswaran noted that the previous year of the Monkey was eventful with unpredictable twists and mischievous turns. He added: “In the Chinese zodiac, roosters are known for their confidence, resourcefulness, reliability and drive. These are the traits that will serve us well as we navigate the uncertain path that lies ahead.”

Earlier, in a speech to welcome the guests, SCCCI president Thomas Chua said that while the government is working on long-term strategies to transform the economy, the chamber would continue to provide local businesses with useful calibrated measures to ensure their survival and sustainable growth.