CFE report: SBF welcomes proposals but also calls for more help now for businesses

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) said on Thursday (Feb 9) it looks forward to working closely with the Government on the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) recommendations to drive growth in the next decade.

But it also cautioned that help is needed now to enable viable businesses to restructure and survive.

"We urge the Government to continue to put sufficient emphasis on assisting businesses to overcome the near-term economic headwinds, as we expect the local business environment to remain tepid at least in the short term," said SBF.

"The business community looks forward to Budget 2017 for possible measures to alleviate immediate operational issues to navigate the current economic slowdown."

SBF also said it was encouraged by CFE's recognition of the role of trade associations and chambers as valuable multipliers, leading industry-level initiatives and supporting enterprises to scale up and make inroads in overseas markets.

It welcomed the opportunity to partner with the Government in playing a bigger role to better support the business community, including the transformation and upgrading of SMEs to be ready for the future.

SBF said the recommendations in the CFE report, released on earlier on Thursday, are aligned to those raised in its position paper to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat last year.

These include recommendations relating to helping promising enterprises to seize international opportunities from their home base in Singapore, commercialisation of intellectual property, support for enterprises to scale up, partnerships between enterprises, expansion of entrepreneurial talent, acquisition of overseas work experience, acquisition of deep skills, as well as a business-friendly regulatory environment to support innovation and risk-taking.

Said SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng: "In the face of substantial uncertainties facing the business community, the CFE recommendations provide timely guidance for companies. The CFE report is comprehensive and the recommendations are well thought-through."

Mr Teo served on the CFE main committee and co-chaired the sub-committee on Future Corporate Capabilities and Innovation with Mr Heng.

He said the CFE recommendations will not be a panacea for all the challenges confronting Singapore and businesses must be nimble, innovative and pioneers in their own right.