New framework for fair tenancy agreements to help SMEs; help with bidding for tenders

SINGAPORE - A new framework to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) negotiate fairer tenancy agreements and an initiative to give SMEs more opportunities for Government procurement were announced Wednesday to help local businesses weather the strain of economic restructuring.

"Overall productivity has been positive but weak," said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck also noted in a speech to more than 300 executives and entrepreneurs at the SME Convention held at Suntec Convention Centre on Wednesday.

"Clearly our restructuring journey is not yet done. We need to continue to push ahead, and pay particular attention to helping SMEs in these areas," said Mr Teo, who is also an advisor on the SME Committee led by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). The convention is organised annually by the SBF.

The new Fair Tenancy Consideration Framework, intended as a guide for voluntary adoption by the industry, spells out the general elements of a fair tenancy agreement, including transparency of fees and tenancy terms.

Drafted by a working group under the SME Committee, the fair tenancy framework will address the issue of rising rents, which have become a huge part of business cost.

Another leg-up for SMEs will come later this year in the form of a set of recommendations from the SBF, including a proposal to set up an accreditation scheme to help SMEs bid for Government tenders.

The Government procures more than $10 billion worth of goods and services every year, and more should be done to help SMEs bid for Government contracts, said Mr Teo.

"I look forward to receiving the SME Committee's recommendations on Government procurement later this year," he said.

Mr Teo also participated in an hour-long morning panel discussion on how SMEs here have been impacted by the economic restructuring exercise that began four years ago. Mr Han Fook Kwang, editor-at-large of The Straits Times, was also part of the panel.