MP Derrick Goh’s speech during the debates on MTI’s Budget
Supporting SMEs in the Longer term
SMEs have fed back that that they are grateful for the relief measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS). One SME restaurant chain owner mentioned to me about how JSS helped her business stay afloat and survive the most difficult period last year allowing her to retain over 50 staff to reach the stage now where the business is seeing some improvement.
As the economic recovery will take longer, some business segments will experience flatter K shape recovery and the key measures of help from the Resilience package such as the JSS and government loan schemes such as the Temporary Bridging Loan will end by 30 September 2021. What other Non-financial support will be provided to help boost SME services to help them ride out this pandemic situation? SMEs are doing what they can to do more business, so in place of subsidies, will the government be planning to bring forward contracts to support the demand for SME services?
As border controls and travel restrictions will take a lot longer to normalise given the pandemic situation outside of Singapore, this means that the tourism industry will have to bear for longer the low demand for their services. Given this, what other plans does the government have in place for the tourism sector beyond the Resilience package? Many of our residents will not have opportunity to travel and have been keen to explore more of Singapore as observed from the experience of the last December holidays. Will the government consider accelerating domestic tourism for our citizens to further explore Singapore’s Nature, Arts and Culture scene to help our local businesses?
Helping more SMEs to Transform
We have been striving to help strengthen our SME businesses, it is a known fact that they are often faced by challenges such as the lack of business size and scale and as a result, face challenges in adopting technology solutions that could be costly on a standalone basis but could perhaps be more affordable if adopted across a segment of the industry. Taking an example from SMEs in the restaurant business, we are now seeing increased use of e-menus. However, the use of e-ordering solutions and analytics is lower even though it helps productivity and can help supplement the lack of manpower and wait staff.
SME entrepreneurs generally want to focus on their business, and many are not technology savvy, wanting more help to access a more economical Technology service as a platform that:
(1) Will not incur capital cost since grants generally do not cover 100% of a technology initiative; and
(2) Minimise risk since they don’t know if the benefits of the technology solution will pay off.
Given situations like this, what will Government do more of and differently beyond providing grants to better encourage and guide our enterprises to adopt technology and digital solutions to improve productivity?
Trade Associations and Chambers of Commerce or TACs also have a role to play given their influence through their long-standing relationships with their members. Can the Minister explain what has the progress been in this space so far and if TACs can play a part to help aggregate the demand for such ICT needs to further complement the efforts of the government to deliver economical solutions for the respective segments in their industries?
Watch the speech here.