SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISESMr Ben Teoh, 41, managing director of subcontractor Everlast, which deals in aluminium and stainless steel products. The seven-year-old homegrown company in Yishun Industrial Park employs 85 people, of which 10 per cent are Singaporeans and the rest foreigners from countries like Bangladesh and India. It has a turnover of about $10 million every yearMy biggest worry now is: Tightening labour supply and increase in manpower and operating costs. This is due to higher levies and higher vehicle COE prices.The Government should: Slow down the speed of cuts and be flexible in reducing foreign worker quotas so that SMEs have sufficient time to adapt and change to latest technologies. We also wish the government can allow us to claim the Industrial Building Allowance for our factory, which is used for fabrication and production purposes, to reduce our financial burden.The government should also provide technical support and training to the construction industry, especially technical advice on automation, purchase of machinery and advice on improving work flow. I hope the Budget will: Give SMEs bridging loans for expansion, and increase the grants under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme for training. Everlast has used the PIC to send staff to management courses and switch to software such as a biometric thumbprint system to monitor attendance.Our trade is mainly a labour intensive industry, and over the past few years, we have been facing very big difficulties in automating our processes.In Budget 2012
In last year's Budget, SMEs got a one-off SME Cash Grant capped at $5,000. They also could claim higher cash payouts from the PIC scheme after the payout rate was raised to 60 per cent for up to $100,000 of their PIC expenditures, from 30 per cent in 2011. From July 1 last year, they could also get the payout on a quarterly basis instead of waiting until the end of the financial year.
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