Commentary: Time to review Government assistance to SMEs

Generally speaking, SMEs in Singapore provide employment for some 70 per cent of the local work force. Understanding how the Government can better support a thriving local private sector, as well as prepare it for disruptions brought about by technological advances could benefit SMEs tremendously.

Of the four points stated in the article, the balance between preventing the abuse of grants/schemes and the ease of application for said grants/schemes for SMEs, stood out. At present, SMEs are still required to go through rather lengthy forms to submit an application and can be tedious for micro SMEs. This is due to multiple reports of abuse of the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme.

Following that, the Government will monitor schemes with take-up rates as the primary metric. Particularly, where financing and managing one’s company’s cash flows are key issues for SMEs, the Government aims to streamline the process of application. One can expect loans to be more accessible for SMEs, where loan sums involved are possibly too small for SMEs to qualify or even apply for.

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Budget 2018: SMEC suggests to develop startups into unicorns

Recently, the SME Committee (SMEC) submitted a proposal to the Government as part of the Budget 2018. The proposal included plans to offer incentives to attract startups with the potential to be unicorns, to set up headquarters in Singapore.

Through tax incentives, government grants, tax deductions, and rebates, private companies are better able to conduct its research and development and create more jobs for the Singapore economy and Singaporeans. Intellectual property (IP) holding and other key functions are to be housed in Singapore, are criteria, amongst others, for the private company to enjoy incentives offered by the Government.

Further support for IP acquisition financing for IP assets, and the acquisition of IP-owning companies was also included in the proposal as an expansion of the Intellectual Property Financing Scheme (IPFS). The SMEC also called for greater accessibility to government schemes, enhancements of the Business Grant Portal and the SME Portal to guide SMEs through the processes and requirements.

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