SINGAPORE: The government will continue to do more to help businesses and lower-income workers as the economy goes through restructuring.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean gave this assurance at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Lunar New Year gathering on Friday.
He also urged the business community to work with the government for sustainable growth.
Acknowledging challenges that businesses face -- such as rising competition from regional economies and smaller inflow of foreign manpower -- he highlighted the Chamber's role in supporting economic transformation.
Mr Teo noted that it had partnered many government agencies to provide a wide range of assistance to businesses.
For example, helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) venture into China; this was done through the IE-SCCCI Singapore Enterprise Centre in Shanghai.
According to latest statistics from China's Ministry of Commerce, Singapore was China's largest foreign investor in 2013.
The Chamber's network of trade association members has also bridged the business community with government agencies.
"SCCCI has coordinated a series of dialogues to surface feedback and suggestions, and strengthened communication between the government and business community,” said DPM Teo in his speech to some 500 guests. “This has resulted in many positive outcomes."
Also in attendance was Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Teo Ser Luck, who said there are more plans to help SMEs.
"For the Budget itself, what I will try to do is to share plans about SME centres itself,” he said. “I think it's important to have a wider network.”
The Chamber has submitted its wish list for this year's Budget -- hoping for an even more pro-business environment with more opportunities for micro-enterprises to grow.
It also hopes productivity grants under the Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme will be extended.
"Industries like construction and F&B are still facing very tight labour supply,” said Thomas Chua, President of SCCCI. “But as our labour policies seem to be quite firm, we would like to urge businesses to bite the bullet and look into how they can pull through by enhancing productivity."
In ongoing efforts to help smaller businesses, the Chamber is working with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology to develop software that will help these businesses generate itemised payslips.
This is because within two years, it will be compulsory for employers to issue itemised payslips to their employees.
The Chamber also said that under the auspices of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce Foundation, it will be awarding joint scholarships to outstanding Indian undergraduates from local universities through the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA).
The SCCCF-SINDA Scholarships, worth $5,000 each, will be awarded to four outstanding Indian undergraduates studying in the four local universities. - CNA/rw
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