SME Committee unveils plans for third term

The SME Committee (Smec), set up by Singapore Business Federation (SBF), will embark on new initiatives to boost small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Smec, which was set up in 2011 to engage firms on business issues, renews its term every two years. Its third term began on April 1 and runs until March 31, 2018.

A new work plan was unveiled at a closed-door discussion between Smec members and its advisers, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

They also discussed how the business community and the Government can collaborate to facilitate growth.

Smec vice-chairman Melvin Tan said the body plans to tackle concerns raised by company leaders, including an expected period of slow growth, manpower shortages, rising business costs and increased competition from regional markets.

Its plan for the coming term ranges from reviewing government assistance schemes to facilitating the formation of partnerships, joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions among SMEs.

One project focuses on data collection and information-gathering on companies as they move from value-added to value-creation sectors.

"Our SMEs stand at the crossroads of this transformation," said Mr Koh Tat Liang, the assistant executive director of Smec's secretariat. He noted that SMEs face the difficulty of moving from adding value to their customers' experience to creating a whole new experience for them.

This monitoring will also help Smec assess the effectiveness of government assistance schemes that focus on financing and internationalisation.

Another project will be to enhance the Fair Tenancy Framework, a set of guidelines and negotiation principles for small businesses that rent premises for their operations.

Smec, which comprises 60 business leaders and key members from various trade associations and chambers, aims to encourage more businesses to adopt the framework.

It will also submit a recommendation to the Committee on the Future Economy to institute a single agency to oversee innovation among SMEs.

SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng said: "SMEs form about 70 per cent of SBF's member companies and they are a key pillar of our Singapore economy. Smec remains a key platform to advocate SMEs' issues, boost their development and enhance their capabilities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'SME Committee unveils plans for third term'. Print Edition | Subscribe