This article was first published on Dec 30, 2014
The Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) released its Budget wishlist yesterday, calling for assistance so that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can broaden their access to manpower and expand across the region, as well as an extension of existing schemes.
Its policy suggestions come amid widespread expectations that the Government will once again help businesses weather the impact of economic restructuring and the manpower crunch.
The SMF, which has around 3,000 corporate members, wants the Wage Credit Scheme - where the Government co-funds 40 per cent of wage increases for Singaporean employees - to be extended for at least two more years, until 2017. It also wants more incentives to be created for companies to hire retiree workers and for professionals, managers and executives to join the SME sector.
The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) and Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV) schemes should also be extended or enhanced, the SMF urged yesterday.
"The SMF recommends that the ICV scheme be continued beyond its current deadline of March 2016 to help enterprises change their mindset and productivity. In addition, the PIC scheme could also be expanded to include more areas, such as those relating to workplace safety and health."
The federation also hopes the Government can help companies better prepare for regional business opportunities once the Asean Economic Community becomes a reality next year.
Government support for training programmes and business matching with overseas partners should be considered, the SMF said, and government-linked companies should be encouraged to support local firms in their regional projects.
Other SMF recommendations include policies to help ease rental costs by actively monitoring office rental rates, and to give logistics companies a discount in certificate of entitlement premiums.
But the SMF acknowledged that change must start from the companies themselves. It said: "To build a culture of productivity and innovation within organisations, change must first happen from the top-level management. SMF recommends more C-level courses for top management to embrace the mindset change."