Economic restructuring has hurt SMEs' growth expectations: SBF

SINGAPORE - Economic restructuring has kept the growth expectations of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) muted, a survey has found.

One factor is a continued manpower crunch, said the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and DP Information Group in a joint report on Wednesday.

They said that SMEs still remained positive overall about their prospects for the second half of this year.

Their survey tracked business sentiment from July to December this year across five industries: construction and engineering, manufacturing, transport and storage, business services and commerce and trading.

In the first three of those sectors, firms' outlooks for the next six months improved slightly this quarter from the previous quarter, the survey found.

However, outlooks worsened in the business services industry and the commerce and trading industry.

The survey is based on 3,000 interviews with SME owners and managers, and the financial performance of SMEs.

"The policy measures introduced by the Government for economic restructuring have not borne fruit yet but there are encouraging signs that they will, with SMEs tapping on incentives and investing in capital," said SBF chief Ho Meng Kit.

"SMEs need to move away from reactive correction to a more transformational approach to achieve robust and sustained growth. We urge Singapore SMEs to come to terms with their restructuring challenges and focus on rediscovering their drive for growth and expansion," he added.