Business

SCCCI wants more Budget support to aid firms' innovation momentum

It releases Budget recommendations based on annual survey of 710 respondents

The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI) wants more Budget support to help companies keep up their momentum in implementing innovation and boosting productivity.

It is urging the government to extend and enhance the Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) for three years.

It suggests as well that strong funding support be made available to trade associations when undertaking Industry Transformation Map (ITM) initiatives.

The Budget wishlist also wants financial help for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to speed up their adoption of e-commerce in the digital economy.

Another proposal says funding should go to trade associations to help member companies get workers with the right skills.

Government-linked companies and large businesses should be encouraged to to help SMEs expand overseas.

The recommendations were based on feedback from an annual SCCCI survey that polled 710 respondents across the construction, manufacturing and services sectors. It also carried out a survey on digitalisation.

The polls found that the ICV has been popular with businesses because they found it easy to use.

Businesses have also started to see results in their productivity improvement efforts, hence the SCCCI recommendation to extend it.

The ICV scheme aims to encourage SMEs to develop their capabilities in different categories such as innovation, productivity and financial management.

Participating firms can receive a $5,000 voucher from Spring Singapore and can apply for up to two vouchers in each category.

A business can apply for a maximum of eight vouchers in all, with Spring reimbursing successful applicants.

Also, while the Industry Transformation Maps are a major strategy of the Committee on the Future Economy, very few businesses see them as a priority.

The SCCCI said that trade associations which want to be involved in the implementation should engage the relevant government agencies to discuss ways they can be of help.

"The Government should support them with funding of 80 per cent in the Industry Transformation Map projects," it added.

The SCCCI also thinks that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and its agencies should channel workers made redundant to other sectors with hiring needs, and help trade associations and businesses improve their recruitment efforts to access these workers.

Where worker retraining is required, the MOM and the SkillsFuture initiative should also financially support trade associations and businesses to retrain workers.

The SCCCI said government-linked companies and local large businesses can give SMEs a head-start in building a track record overseas by allowing them to participate in their overseas projects.

"Hunting in a pack" will also promote the combined strengths and capabilities of a Singapore cluster in overseas markets, it said.

BUSINESS & FINANCE