Firms back industry road maps but awareness can be boosted: SBF chief

SBF's Mr Ho clarified earlier comments made, saying he was sharing feedback from some companies.
SBF's Mr Ho clarified earlier comments made, saying he was sharing feedback from some companies.

There is broad support among companies for the Government's road maps for transforming each sector, but more could be done to raise awareness of these plans, said Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief executive Ho Meng Kit. While businesses welcome the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) programme, Mr Ho said companies - especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - still do not know enough about it.

He was clarifying earlier comments in The Business Times and The Straits Times, which quoted him as saying that ITMs are disconnected from the needs of business.

"My intention was to share some feedback I had received from some companies. These represented the perception of these companies on the ITMs," he said at a briefing yesterday.

ITMs were launched as part of a $4.5 billion industry transformation package in Budget 2016.

The industry-specific road maps aim to take an integrated approach where trade associations and chambers, companies and the government work together to help sectors prepare for the future.

Fifteen ITMs have been launched, with the remaining eight to be rolled out by March. That will bring coverage to 80 per cent of the economy.

The results of an SBF survey, out yesterday, showed that 52 per cent of the 1,000 companies polled said they still do not know enough about the ITMs. This shows more needs to be done to raise awareness, Mr Ho said. "SBF has been closely partnering our government agencies and member companies in the implementation of the ITMs," he added.

"This is because we fully recognise the importance of the ITMs in helping our businesses grow and transform, especially our SMEs."

The survey also found that as many as a quarter of those polled have yet to take significant steps towards business transformation. These "slow starters" were also more likely to suffer lacklustre growth.

At the other end of the spectrum, a third of respondents see themselves at the forefront of innovation in their respective industries and have invested significant resources in preparing for the future.

The ITMs have to appeal to companies at all stages of their transformation journey, especially those that are still lagging behind, Mr Ho said, adding that this can be achieved by strong collaboration between the public and private sectors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2018, with the headline 'Firms back industry road maps but awareness can be boosted: SBF chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe