Govt to focus on 3 areas to help SMEs

They are: productivity, opportunities and conducive business environment

THE Government will focus on three broad strategies to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck said yesterday.

Mr Teo said one tack will involve driving productivity, innovation and upgrading of capabilities while the second will involve helping firms seize growth opportunities.

The Government will also work on creating a conducive business environment for SMEs.

The strategies come after a review initiated last April looked at existing measures and proposed additional ones to help SMEs in the new operating environment.

Specific recommendations and initiatives are still being finalised and could be unveiled at the Budget later this month, but Mr Teo highlighted the Government's main strategies.

He told an awards ceremony that raising productivity and capability "is the only long-term solution for our businesses, and the only way that they can continue to grow".

Mr Teo also said a key aspect will be working with polytechnics, Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs) and industry associations on strengthening the ability of SMEs to attract and retain talent. This is important considering Singapore's labour constraints.

International Enterprise Singapore and Spring Singapore will increase their efforts to help firms capitalise on overseas growth opportunities.

The Government will improve coordination and channel more resources to relevant agencies so that SMEs will be able to tap on knowledge about markets, suppliers and technologies overseas.

It will also facilitate inter-company partnerships so firms can access overseas market opportunities together and become regional leaders. This includes encouraging tie-ups between larger corporations and SMEs.

The Government will also make assistance schemes simpler and more accessible to all groups of SMEs - whether big or small, said Mr Teo.

Various outreach channels like the Enterprise Development Centres and industry associations will be enhanced so they can reach out to more small SMEs.

Mr Teo was speaking at the Singapore 1000, Singapore SME 1000 and International 100 awards ceremony held at the Shangri-La Hotel last night.

The winners had been ranked by DP Information Group with Ernst & Young as the awards co-producer.

Yesterday DP Information initiated a special award - the "Crossing $100 million Turnover SME Award - for the firm that graduates to the Singapore 1000 list with the largest percentage leap in sales.

The winner was Poet Shipbuilding and Engineering, which had a 366.8 per cent rise in revenue.

Over the last few years, Poet had expanded beyond building tugboats and barges, to constructing more sophisticated vessels, which are higher in value in the offshore oil and gas industry.

jonkwok@sph.com.sg