Business

Businesses seek tax cuts for Budget 2020: Survey

SBF survey also noted that manpower issues continue to frustrate local firms

Tax relief is high on company wish lists for next month's Budget given concerns about a tough year ahead, a survey noted yesterday.

It found that 55 per cent of both large firms and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) rank corporate and income tax rate reduction and rebates to help upskill staff as the top two Budget priorities.

Nearly half of the respondents also want help in other areas, such as easier access to government information and resources (49 per cent), incentives for industry-related training (47 per cent) and corporate venturing (47 per cent).

The annual survey by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) from Aug 26 to Oct 25 last year drew responses from about 1,000 firms.

Companies are seeking relief after a year wrought by economic uncertainties, partly because of the United States-China trade dispute.

The poll noted that 51 per cent of respondents felt Singapore's business climate had worsened over the past 12 months.

They were also less satisfied with the regional and global business environment compared with 2018.

For the year ahead, 44 per cent expect similar conditions while 49 per cent anticipate the business climate here will get more challenging.

Worries over the global economic climate have also increased.

Other key concerns for this year include rising business costs, such as for rental and raw materials, increasing wages, the uncertainties created by the US-China trade tensions and China's economic slowdown.

The top three challenges for local businesses this year were identified as manpower costs (67 per cent), business competition (62 per cent) and finding new or better ways to grow revenue (56 per cent).

Manpower issues continue to frustrate local companies, the SBF noted yesterday.

The survey showed that while many firms struggle with rising labour costs, the dynamics stemming from tighter government policies on hiring foreigners and the competition to secure the best local talent are putting real pressure on many companies.

It also found that 40 per cent of firms face challenges in attracting or retaining younger workers.

SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit said the Government should consider the wishes and issues of the business community in the survey as "feedback from the ground".

"But in my personal opinion, it is not reasonable to expect the Government to cut corporate taxes or give rebates," he added.

Mr Ho said he believed the Government will spend the surplus on more targeted schemes and keep its focus on the long-term goal of business transformation.

BUSINESS & FINANCE