Firms must lead way in creating value: Heng

Mr Heng Swee Keat speaking at the Semi-Centennial Leadership Conference at the Suntec convention centre yesterday. Mr Heng said companies function as the "building blocks of our economy".
Mr Heng Swee Keat speaking at the Semi-Centennial Leadership Conference at the Suntec convention centre yesterday. Mr Heng said companies function as the "building blocks of our economy".PHOTO: SINGAPORE BUSINESS FEDERATION

They play critical role in paving way for shift to future economy: Finance Minister

Businesses here must lead the way in creating value for Singapore's future economy, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

Reiterating the need for the Republic to shift from a value-adding economy to a value-creating one to stay ahead of the competition, Mr Heng said companies function as the "building blocks of our economy".

"A value-creating economy is hence built on these building blocks - a network of innovative, entrepreneurial companies that can continually create value that exceeds the cost of its inputs," he said.

"We have to produce what the rest of the world is not producing, or at least, not much of it. To do so, we have to build deep capabilities and linkages in our companies, in our industries and in our economy, to create new products and deliver better solutions in cost-effective, innovative ways."

Mr Heng was speaking at the Semi-Centennial Leadership Conference at the Suntec convention centre. The event was organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

He said it is important that companies tackle the five areas that are critical for Singapore's future economy: companies, jobs, markets, technology and resources.

Businesses, for instance, need to "deepen corporate and innovative capabilities to prepare for the future of companies", he said, citing Boustead Singapore as an example.

The company in the 1960s had rethought its business model and shifted from distributing major brands to infrastructure-related engineering services, enabling it to achieve success today.

Mr Heng also urged businesses to seize opportunities to connect to regional and global markets, so that they can "transcend the size of our domestic market and build scale".

"Singapore is already an externally oriented economy, but we need to delve further into strategies to help our companies expand into these markets amid rising competition," he said.

"Internationalisation is complex. This is why good business leadership is key to help organise ourselves to better connect to regional and global markets."

SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng, who also spoke at the conference, voiced similar sentiments. He said Singapore firms must tap opportunities that come with developments such as the Asean Economic Community, China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Yesterday, 50 companies received the Singapore Golden Jubilee Business Awards for their achievements and contributions over the decades.

Among the recipients was Boustead Singapore, the oldest organisation at 187 years old. Others included OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank, Sing Lun Investments, Keppel Singmarine, Hong Leong Investment Holdings, Cathay Organisation and Yeo Hiap Seng.

"These businesses stayed mindful of domestic and global changes, to ensure that their businesses remained relevant to the needs of their time," said Mr Heng.

"We need to continue to embody this pioneering spirit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2015, with the headline 'Firms must lead way in creating value: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe