Singapore Budget 2015: Online portal to provide streamlined help for SMEs

SINGAPORE - A new online portal will be set up to make it easier for companies to search and apply for government grants.

The Government will roll out the first phase of this Business Grants Portal over the next year, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck said in Parliament on Monday.

The project involves 10 government agencies, and aims to streamline about 20 existing business grants into three key areas within one portal.

The three areas are capability development, internationalisation and training. Agencies involved include Spring Singapore, IE Singapore and the Workforce Development Agency.

"Companies will be guided through the process and given advice on the grants which they are eligible for," Mr Teo said.

The minister was responding to Mr Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Nominated MP Thomas Chua, who had said that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should be able to approach a single government agency for help with all their needs.

This is because SMEs are finding it much tougher to cope with ongoing restructuring, Mr Singh said, noting that there might be a risk of Singapore becoming a "dual economy" where "SMEs face one cost structure and larger multinational corporations and government-linked corporations have another because of better support from the government".

"I am afraid the middle path that the government thinks is right is not middle enough for most SMEs."

Many SMEs are confused by the number of government schemes and the various agencies that they have to visit for each of these schemes, Mr Singh added.

"We must realise that they have businesses to run and cannot be figuring this out or going door-to-door to deal with onerous administrative requirements."