From the Backbench

Budget debate: MPs call for support to spur tourism sector, help for SMEs to attract local talent

Nee Soon GRC MP Derrick Goh. PHOTO: MCI


More support to spur tourism sector

With border controls and travel restrictions expected to take an extended period of time to normalise given the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism industry will have to bear with low demand for their services for a longer period.

Mr Goh called for more plans for the tourism sector beyond the Covid-19 Resilience Package to help local businesses. "Many of our residents will not have the opportunity to travel and have been keen to explore more of Singapore, as observed from the experience of the last December holidays," he said.

Nominated MP Hoon Hian Teck. PHOTO: MCI


Clean technology a crucial area to tap

As Singapore commits to being an environmentally sustainable place to live, work and play, there will be a greater demand for capital goods that embody clean technology. This could facilitate research and development in the field.

Said Professor Hoon: "Having tested out their products in the local market, these innovative firms can then potentially export such capital goods to the rest of the world." This could enable the Singapore economy to achieve the required productivity growth to support good jobs with good pay, he noted.

Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam. PHOTO: MCI


Help SMEs attract more local talent

Mr Giam noted how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face many challenges in attracting and retaining local talent, and how attempts to attract such employees have seen mixed results. He suggested that teachers and parents encourage young people to broaden their career aspirations and definition of success.

"Not every child needs to aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, banker or government scholar," he said. "Many SMEs provide incredible opportunities to learn different skills and take on multiple roles."

West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har. PHOTO: MCI


Withdrawal of loan schemes: Timing vital

While existing broad-based fiscal support cannot be sustained indefinitely, companies need time to recover and premature withdrawal of support may undo the good work already invested to keep them afloat, Ms Foo said.

"It is critical to time the withdrawal of loan schemes carefully, including the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme and the SME Working Capital Loan, in order to ensure that much-needed relief and cash flow does not vanish," she said.

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