Singapore Budget 2020: New multi-platform package to help firms grow and go global

A new platform called GoBusiness will streamline licence applications for businesses, as well as make it easier for them to get information about government help. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - To help them grow and create jobs, businesses will receive more aid to enter new markets, innovate and adopt digital solutions through a new, multi-platform package.

The Enterprise Grow Package will include new grants as well as enhanced versions of existing support measures, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Tuesday (Feb 18).

"Our enterprises must be the incubators of innovation, the crucibles for skills upgrading, and the creators of good jobs for our people," said Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister .

"Many of our enterprises are deepening their capabilities - by innovating, digitalising and venturing overseas."

As part of this package, a new platform for companies to transact with the Government online will also be launched to make the process easier.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) said the platform, called GoBusiness, will be the central platform for businesses to transact with the Government. It was piloted in October 2019 for the food services sector.

GoBusiness will streamline licence applications for businesses, as well as make it easier for them to get information about government help.

On Tuesday, Mr Heng also pledged greater support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tackle business challenges brought by digital disruption through the expansion of its SMEs Go Digital scheme, which has helped more than 10,000 SMEs build digital capabilities.

Under the scheme, 10 out of 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITM) sectors have had industry digital plans developed for them, which are step-by-step guides to help SMEs select digital solutions and skills training programmes relevant to them.

These plans will be expanded to the remaining 13 ITM sectors, which were first outlined in Budget 2016 as part of a $4.5 billion industry transformation package.

Help for companies to enter new markets will be extended as well, with the enhancement of the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA), a broad-based enterprise grant scheme that gives funds to companies taking their first steps to internationalise.

MOF said that under the new MRA, companies can consult the Government on how to better leverage free trade agreements (FTAs) that Singapore has signed with other countries.

Said Mr Heng: "To help more enterprises enter new markets, we will enhance the Market Readiness Assistance grant by expanding the funding support and coverage, to include, for example, FTA consultancy."

The grant cap for the MRA will also be increased from $20,000 annually to $100,000 per new market per company, in the enhancement period of FY20-22.

The existing 70 per cent support level for the MRA, which companies can use to pay for activities like promoting their products and services overseas and identify business partners, will also be extended for another three years, until March 31, 2023.

A separate initiative called Grow Digital will also be set up by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore to access global markets via digital channels, and more details will be announced later in the year.

Enterprise Singapore will also be partnering with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to start GlobalConnect @ SBF, which will assist Singapore companies looking to internationalise for the first time, as well as enterprises which are expanding and deepening their presence in key South-east Asian and emerging markets.

Launching in April, GlobalConnect @ SBF will also have a team of market advisers to help SMEs through face-to-face market advisory services, as well as create networking and business-matching opportunities.

Under the Enterprise Grow Package, the 11 SME Centres, which offer general business diagnosis and advisory services, capability workshops and group-based upgrading projects, will implement a targeted support for small enterprises with high potential, said MOF.

Such firms, which need to have a good track record of growth and have a scalable or unique business model, will get more help to develop their business plans, with one-on-one in-depth business consultation and coaching, among other forms of support.

The Productivity Solutions Grant, which gives enterprises funds to adopt pre-approved digital solutions and equipment, will also be expanded, Mr Heng said.

This grant will be expanded to include consultancy services, and will include sector-specific solutions too.

MOF said more details about the platform will be given at the debate on the budget for the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

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