Singapore Budget 2020: $8.3b to be allocated for economic transformation and growth

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat arriving at Parliament House to deliver the Budget speech on Feb 18, 2020. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Government will allocate $8.3 billion over the next three years to spur enterprises and the economy to transform and grow, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 18).

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said the funds will go into supporting measures under three main thrusts: enabling stronger partnerships, deepening enterprise capabilities and developing people.

The sum includes the amount allocated in previous years.

He said: "As a small, open economy, we must continue to strengthen partnerships with the world... To make the most of our global links, we must also strengthen partnerships within Singapore to bring good ideas to global markets."

He added that the Government is also enhancing digital connectivity.

Initiatives such as the Nationwide E-invoicing Network allow suppliers to send e-invoices to the Government. A Networked Trade Platform also facilitates the international exchange of trade data.

Besides international partnerships, Singapore also has to build connections within industries.

Mr Heng said: "Within each industry, we need to strengthen partnerships to deepen industry-wide capabilities. Even as our enterprises compete to differentiate themselves, they must come together to solve common challenges."

To spur businesses in raising their capabilities, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) will launch a pilot Executive-in-Residence programme, to fund more than 10 trade associations and chambers in hiring experienced executives who can provide expert advice to enterprises in their industries.

ESG will also kick-start a new Heartland Enterprise Upgrading Programme to support Merchants' Associations to drive the transformation of heartland enterprises. Selected associations will be supported in developing and implementing four-year precinct rejuvenation plans that include infrastructure improvements and training for enterprises and workers.

Start-ups, particularly those in deep tech, will also get more help.

Mr Heng announced that the Government will set aside an additional $300 million under Startup SG Equity, which provides financing for early-stage, tech start-ups.

"We expect this to draw in more than $800 million of private funding over the next 10 years. This will gfive deep-tech start-ups better access to capital, expertise and industry networks," he said.

He also introduced a range of measures to help enterprises to innovate and change, especially in the digital age.

"We must continue to support the growth of our enterprises, and as they mature, drive deeper transformation," Mr Heng said.

He introduced an Enterprise Transform Package, which includes an Enterprise Leadership for Transformation Programme to support business leaders of promising small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The aim is to groom business leaders of 900 companies over the next three years with training and mentorship, in collaboration with institutes of higher learning, for instance.

Mr Heng added: "For enterprises to transform, they also need to strengthen their leadership and management capabilities."

The Enterprise Development Grant, which provides integrated support for enterprises to innovate and internationalise, will also expand its reach to support about 3,000 projects this financial year. This is an increase of more than 10 per cent from the current number.

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