More SMEs turning to Government for aid amid tight labour market, rising costs

With rising business costs and a tight labour market putting the squeeze on businesses here last year, more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) turned to Spring Singapore for aid.

Spring provided help to 5,600 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with productivity improvements last year, 19 per cent more than in 2011, Spring revealed at its annual Year-in-Review briefing this morning.

Altogether, Spring committed $110.8 million in grants last year, up from $95.5 million the year before, said Spring chief executive Png Cheong Boon.

Of those helped last year, 72 per cent were small and micro SMEs.

Small SMEs refer to businesses with annual revenues of between $1 million and $10 million, while micro SMEs are those with annual revenues of less than $1 million.

The Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) was expanded last year to assist SMEs in four areas - productivity, innovation, human capital and financial management.

For the whole year, over 1,500 SMEs tapped on the vouchers. Half of them were first-timers, while 95 of per cent were small and micro SMEs, Mr Png said.

Spring issued some $1.3 billion in government-backed loans to SMEs last year, down from $1.4 billion in 2011.

"This is a sign that commercial banks are still healthy," Mr Png said.

"The percentage of SMEs facing financial issues has decreased over the years since the financial crisis."

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