Parliament: Change to government buying process can help SMEs

The upper limit for quotations will be increased from $70,000 to $90,000 so it will be easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to take part in the Government's buying process.
The upper limit for quotations will be increased from $70,000 to $90,000 so it will be easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to take part in the Government's buying process.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Companies without government supplier registration (GSR) will be able to apply for higher-value public projects following a change that will take place later this year, said Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Finance, on Thursday (Feb 28).

The upper limit for quotations will be raised from $70,000 to $90,000 so it will be easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to take part in the Government's buying process.

"Smaller companies and start-ups without GSR can capture higher-value Government projects through quotations," said Ms Indranee during the debate on the budget for the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

Quotations come with simpler contractual terms and conditions and tend to be processed more quickly, she added.

The buying procedure now can take the form of a small value purchase of up to $6,000, quotations for those between $6,000 and $70,000, and tenders for ones of more than $70,000.

Ms Indranee was responding to Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who asked about how procurement policies support enterprises.

The change follows last year's amendment to do away with the requirement for companies with less than $5 million in turnover to submit audited accounts when applying for GSR.

 
 
 

Having a valid GSR status is sometimes part of the evaluation criteria for government tenders.

The system was meant to remove the need for companies to submit the same financial documents each time they bid for a government tender.

Ms Indranee said: "We will now accept unaudited financial statements if the company's director certifies that their financial statements are accurate and true."

About 3,900 GSR registered suppliers have benefited, she added.

The Companies Act will be reviewed this year to "expressly provide for the use of digital means for companies to conduct meetings and interact with stakeholders" in a move to help companies cut costs, said Ms Indranee.

Companies must hold annual general meetings (AGMs) within four to six months of the end of their financial year.

Mr Liang had earlier asked about how the Government uses digital technology to streamline corporate regulatory requirements.

His suggestion was to allow companies to conduct electronic or virtual AGMs, a move that Ms Indranee said has helped Fortune 500 companies save money.