Sim Ann on IE-Spring merger: SMEs will not be hit

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann (fourth from left), at a panel discussion with SBF representatives, reassured SMEs that services would not be affected by the merger.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann (fourth from left), at a panel discussion with SBF representatives, reassured SMEs that services would not be affected by the merger.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BUSINESS FEDERATION

The upcoming merger of government agencies IE Singapore and Spring Singapore will not leave smaller companies in the lurch, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann.

This reassurance came yesterday at a convention for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) held by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), which has pushed for a single pro-SME body in previous Budget recommendations.

IE and Spring will next year join forces as Enterprise Singapore to integrate capabilities and resources, it was announced last month.

IE now backs Singapore companies' overseas ventures in line with its mission to promote international trade, while Spring supports start-ups and SMEs in areas like funding and innovation.

"We are very cognisant of the wishes, the expectations, that the business community has indicated to us," Ms Sim said while on a panel with various SBF representatives.

"We want to ensure that this formation takes place smoothly... In the process of doing this merger and transformation, we will ensure that services to our SMEs remain."

Fellow panellist Audrey Yap, a lawyer who chairs the SBF-led SME Committee's sub-committee on innovation, said: "It is within a very short time when a company is successful that it goes into internationalisation.

"The problem is that Spring was recognised as taking care of infrastructure and IE, internationalisation.

"Within a short period of time, there often was this feeling that there's this disconnect."

The chairman of the SBF-led SME Committee, Mr Lawrence Leow, said in his welcome address to the convention that his committee was "delighted" to see its Budget recommendation for a single body realised.

"We also look forward to more streamlined and comprehensive assistance programmes for companies from the new entity," he said.

Mr Leow, a former Nominated MP who is also chief executive of the multi-industry Crescendas Group, added that another opportunity for SMEs lies in winning government contracts.

"Government contracts play an important role in enabling our local enterprises to build up the track record and credibility necessary for them to seize regional and international opportunities," he said.

His committee yesterday released a best practices guide on government procurement, to help smaller businesses take on the tender process.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Sim Ann on IE-Spring merger: SMEs will not be hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe