Voice of businesses finds new ways to be heard

(From left) Past SBF chairman Stephen Lee, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng and past SBF chairman Tony Chew at the official opening of SBF Centre in Robinson Road yeste
(From left) Past SBF chairman Stephen Lee, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng and past SBF chairman Tony Chew at the official opening of SBF Centre in Robinson Road yesterday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Fifteen years on from its inception, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) wants to be even better at being the voice of the business community, and it has a new strategy to back up that mission.

SBF officially opened its new office at the SBF Centre in Robinson Road yesterday, in an event attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

On the sidelines of the event, SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng told the media that the organisation had embarked on a strategic review of its role last December.

As a result of the feedback it received from the Government, trade associations and chambers (TACs), and its member companies, it has a new mission - to intensify its efforts to spot, prioritise and help resolve burning issues that businesses face.

One way it aims to do so is by setting up more "issues committees", similar to the SME Committee it formed in 2011, which has been a great success, said SBF chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit.

The committee served as a common platform for many associations whose members are also mainly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), he noted.

"We found this cooperation very meaningful. We also had the committee look at various issues such as cost of doing business, innovation, manpower and productivity, and we had many volunteers (from the business community) who came forward to serve on the committee."

This inspired SBF to look at setting up more such committees.

For a start, it has formed one to help businesses build strong digital capabilities and promote the adoption of digital technologies.

SBF is urging more business leaders to lend their time and insights to these committees.

It also aims to work more closely with TACs, with an eye towards avoiding duplication of efforts. This would mean, for instance, letting a TAC with industry expertise lead the way when it comes to collaborative projects.

SBF wants to be an aggregator, bringing TACs together, for instance, through networking sessions and research projects.

Mr Teo noted, for example, that business chambers representing foreign-owned companies here, such as the Latin American Chamber of Commerce Singapore, want to do more to help their members network with local firms.

To this end, SBF and 30 TACs signed a compact yesterday to work as strategic partners and collaborators to further the interests of their members and the growth of the business community.

SBF will also step in for those sectors without a representative TAC, such as the wholesale trade sector.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Voice of businesses finds new ways to be heard'. Print Edition | Subscribe