Local firms gain from schemes in productivity push

Many Singapore companies have benefited from a range of schemes to help them in their productivity drive, according to figures by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The schemes fall into three categories.

The broad-based schemes are available to all businesses to encourage investment in productivity, technology and innovation.

These include the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) and the Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV).

A second category is where programmes help companies in specific areas such as the Technology Adoption Programme (TAP).

The third category covers sector-specific schemes under the National Productivity Council (NPC), such as the Construction Productivity and Capability Fund and the Community Health Improvement and Productivity Scheme. Among the broad-based programmes, PIC is possibly the best-known. Companies have enjoyed over $1.8 billion in PIC benefits as of Aug 31 last year, for years of assessment 2011 to 2013.

Another popular programme is the ICV.

Since 2013, Spring Singapore has awarded 8,500 vouchers amounting to $42.5 million for consultancy and capability building.

As of June 30 last year, 6,600 ICV applications have been approved since the programme was launched in June 2012, and 3,500 were approved since last January.

There has been a surge in ICV applications approved since the scheme was expanded on March 1 last year to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in implementing solutions after completing consultancy projects in innovation, productivity, human resources development and financial management.

More than 75 per cent of the applications approved between January and June last year were for productivity solutions.

Since the launch of TAP in 2013, 12 technology solutions have been commercialised, and 650 local companies have benefited from them.

Over the last two years, there has been a rise in the SMEs that are adopting automation, and information and communications technology.

As of last September, about 1,300 food companies have embarked on productivity upgrading projects, since the productivity road maps for the food service and food manufacturing sectors were rolled out in 2011.

As of last October, over 620 retailers have been supported in various productivity upgrading initiatives, since the launch of the Retail Productivity Plan in 2011.

Excluding the PIC and ICV schemes, around $490 million has been committed to companies through the various broad-based and sectoral productivity schemes under the NPC.

More than 22,000 companies have benefited from these initiatives, with 7,000 companies in 2013 alone.

The productivity performance across sectors has been uneven.

Between 2010 and 2013, sectors such as manufacturing, and finance and insurance showed healthy productivity growth of 2.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent per annum respectively.

Productivity growth in domestically oriented sectors like construction, retail, and food and beverage declined by 0.2 per cent, 2.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent per annum respectively.