Parliament: Change to Govt's buying process can help SMEs: Indranee

Technology is one way government agencies like the National Library Board have used to help cut costs. The NLB uses robots and automatic sorting machines to help staff and volunteers with shelving work. Library users can also check out books without
Technology is one way government agencies like the National Library Board have used to help cut costs. The NLB uses robots and automatic sorting machines to help staff and volunteers with shelving work. Library users can also check out books without queueing by using a mobile app, and pick up reserved items at self-service lockers outside library operating hours. These have helped to achieve cost savings of $2 million annually, Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah said.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Companies without government supplier registration (GSR) can apply for higher-value public projects following a change that will take place later this year, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah yesterday.

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.

"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.

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 how procurement policies support enterprises.

She hopes that many among the 12,000 suppliers who participate in quotations but not tenders can benefit from the change.

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

 
 
 

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 its 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" to help companies cut costs, she said.

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

Mr Liang had earlier asked 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.

Aw Cheng Wei

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline 'Change to Govt's buying process can help SMEs: Indranee'. Print Edition | Subscribe