Singapore Budget 2019: An overview on business initiatives

Singapore's Minister of Finance, Mr. Heng Swee Keat, delivered the FY2019 Budget Statement on 18 February 2019. This year, the government will be rolling out several initiatives for businesses in Singapore. Here is an overview of the initiatives and what it means for you and your business.

Singapore the gateway to ASEAN

To ensure that Singapore firms remain competitive and stay relevant to the world, Budget 2019 has outlined two key areas for industry transformation:

  • Encouraging strong partnerships, within Singapore and across the world
  • Building deep enterprise capabilities

Encouraging strong partnerships 

One of the key areas that the government is focusing on is on building up global partnerships, so that firms and people can forge new areas of collaboration with other innovation centres. The Government recognises the significant role that trade associations and chambers (TACs) play in helping local enterprises to grow their external wings.

Programs and Initiatives to help businesses to build strong partnerships in Singapore and across the world:

1. Local Enterprise and Association Development programme

This programme will help to strengthen support for TACs through the Local Enterprise and Association Development programme.

2. Five-year road maps for TACs

Enterprise Singapore will develop these road maps with TACs that have “demonstrated strong leadership and shown ambition to do more for the business community”. The road map will help TACS take on a more strategic and longer-term approach in driving industry transformation, and gain access to funding.

3. Global Innovation Alliance (GIA)

Nodes in global start-up hot spots, such as Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Jakarta, and San Francisco will provide entrepreneurs and students new opportunities to learn and build global networks.

4. Singapore Fintech Festival and the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology

This event that will happen in mid-November will help to maximise efforts in bringing the global innovation community to Singapore together, and foster opportunities to explore and collaborate.

5. Centres of Innovation

These centres will focus on aquaculture and energy, as part of the Government’s push to help SMEs with technology innovation.  The Aquaculture Centre will support the growth and internationalisation of local enterprises, while improving Singapore’s food resilience.  The Energy Centre aims to drive industry-led innovation in energy efficiency, renewable energy and electric mobility.

Building Deep Enterprise Capabilities

Another key area for the Government is to continue helping SMEs adopt digital technologies by providing support in three areas: 

  • Providing customised assistance
  • Better financing options
  • Supporting technology adoption

Programmes and initiatives to help businesses build up on enterprise capabilities:

1. Scale-up SG programme and Innovation Agents

A two-year pilot to help firms tap industry professionals for opportunities to innovate and commercialise technology. This could help local firms to deepen their capabilities and internationlize. This in turn, will generate good jobs, better career opportunities and wage growth for local workers.

2. SMEs Go Digital programme

Sectors such as accountancy, sea transport, and construction are added to this program, with more sectors due to be included later. This programmes aims to guide SMEs on relevant digital technologies and skills training programmes.

3. SME Co-Investment Fund III

This is aimed at catalyzing private-sector funding in Singapore-based SMEs to help them scale up. Such investments have a direct correlation to investments and employment in Singapore.

4. Cross-border Innovation Platform

MAS and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will jointly pilot a cross-border innovation platform for SMEs, known as 'Business sans Borders'.  Powered by artificial intelligence, this marketplace aims to help SMEs find global buyers and suppliers.

5. Automation Support Package and the SME Working Capital Loan

This support package is extended to address the financial needs of smaller companies, with the Government sharing risks with participating financial institutions and jointly providing up to 70% of the cost of technology projects.

6. Enterprise Development Grant and Productivity Solutions Grant

Extended and enhanced to promote innovation.

7. Enterprise Financing Scheme

Streamlined existing financing initiatives for small and medium-sized enterprises.

8. R&D and new Centres of Innovation

The continued investments in technology, innovation and enterprise is to move towards keeping Singapore as the top country regionally and internationally.

9. One-stop portal

To make it easier for businesses to transact with the Government, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and relevant agencies are developing a one-stop portal, with a pilot to be launched for the food services sector by the third quarter of 2019. Businesses will deal with only one point of contact, instead of up to 14 different ones as they do today.

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