Companies do not often receive handouts in Singapore's annual Budget, but in recent years the Government has introduced measures to ease their pain amid the ongoing economic restructuring. This year, what additional help would businesses like to see in the Budget? Here are their three wishes:
1. More productivity incentives. With the popular Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme due to expire next year, many companies have asked for the scheme to be prolonged. The PIC gives firms tax deductions or cash payouts if they spend in any of six pre-defined areas to improve their productivity or innovativeness.
Businesses would also like some of the rules on the scheme to be relaxed. Among other things, they want the individual caps on spending in each area to be combined across all six areas, allowing them more freedom in choosing what they want to invest more in.
2. Aid with business costs. The labour shortage has led to many firms having to pay their employees more, which is good for workers but a struggle for businesses. Land and rental costs are also high, adding to the squeeze on profit margins.
To cope with the high cost of doing business, companies would like to see some measures that reduce their taxes, help improve their cash flow or subsidise their rental or wage costs.
3. Help expanding overseas. According to a survey by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), seven in 10 firms here have plans to expand their operations to other countries within the next two years.
But nearly six in 10 are concerned over lacking the funds to do so, and would like some support from the Government to help them finance their overseas plans, ASME said. Companies are also looking for more support in doing research into foreign markets and crafting their expansion strategies.