Govt paying heed to firms' needs of the hour, says Iswaran

Mr Iswaran expressed confidence that Singapore will face the many ups and downs with unity and resilience, as it has done in the first five decades of its nationhood.
Mr Iswaran expressed confidence that Singapore will face the many ups and downs with unity and resilience, as it has done in the first five decades of its nationhood. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

The Government is paying close attention to the immediate needs of companies here as they face an uncertain environment, Trade and Industry Minister (Industry) S. Iswaran said last Saturday. It will also continue to support trade associations, companies and people as they gear up for the challenges ahead, he added.

This year will pose its own challenges, with continuing economic headwinds and an unpredictable global political climate. But Mr Iswaran expressed confidence that Singapore will face the many ups and downs with unity and resilience, as it has done in the first five decades of its nationhood.

He was speaking at the annual Chinese New Year gathering at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), where guests included foreign diplomats, senior government officials, and leaders from the business, cultural and community organisations. "For Singapore to thrive as a place of opportunity, our people must be adaptable with deep skills, our enterprises innovative and nimble, and our economy open and connected," he said.

He added that care should be taken to ensure the nation's immediate needs do not blind it to fundamental long-term challenges. "The challenge now lies in how we achieve and sustain these goals."

Singapore ended 2016 on a strong footing, with fourth-quarter economic growth rising 1.8 per cent from a year earlier. Mr Iswaran said small and medium-sized enterprises are key to Singapore's economic renewal. He said he was encouraged by the SCCCI's pre-Budget 2017 recommendations which aim to foster a pro-business environment.

The recommendations included more flexibility by the Government to help small firms restructure and innovate, and more support for trade associations to drive industry development.

"It is the dexterity, innovation capacity and scale of our SMEs that will underpin our ability to create value in future," Mr Iswaran said, assuring the SCCCI that the Government will work closely with it to help realise this objective.

The just-concluded Year of the Monkey had many twists and turns, he noted, but expressed hope for the coming year. "In the Chinese zodiac, roosters are known for their confidence, resourcefulness, reliability and drive. These are the traits that will serve us well as we navigate the uncertain path that lies ahead," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Govt paying heed to firms' needs of the hour, says Iswaran'. Print Edition | Subscribe