Need for single government agency to handle all Singapore SME needs?

There are over 200 government assistance schemes to aid Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with various aspects of business, but some experts feel there should be a single point of contact.

This was just one of the ideas thrown up by a group of business leaders and consultants during a panel discussion at the SME Convention organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on Monday morning.

Among the panellists was Mr Lawrence Leow, the chairman of the SME Committee, an advocacy group led by the SBF. He said while the Government is already doing "a great job" to help Singapore's SMEs with its various assistance schemes, it is time to consider having a single dedicated agency to look after SME needs.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Teo Ser Luck, who was also on the panel, noted that there are different agencies working closely together to help SMEs.

"It doesn't give people a sense that it was an overarching agency, it doesn't give people a sense that hey, Spring is actually advocating but Spring is doing that," he ssaid.

"What is the issue? I pondered that question and why I get that kind of feedback that we need that agency when that agency supposedly exists today... Maybe we've got to have a more aligned and consolidated account management structure where we can manage through a single contact, a single point, for SMEs."

Other ideas suggested by the panelists were placing caps on rental increases for business space and offering tax breaks to Government-linked companies when they award sub-contracts or partnerships to local SMEs for their overseas projects.

The SME Convention, taking place at the Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre, is one of the events complementing the Global Entrepolis @ Singapore Business Leaders' Summit, an annual conference now in its 10th year.