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What Budget goodies do you hope to get this year?

Mr Ang Cheng Siew

Mr Ang Cheng Siew

Managing Director, Z-Power Automation

The Budget this year will play a significant role in catapulting Singapore to the next phase of economic development. The marine industry is going through a rough patch. Given that the manpower shortage and increasing cost of operations are our key concerns, we hope to see some relaxation in manpower policies, both in terms of a reduction in levies on foreign labour and an easing of the quota. The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme, though well intended, has had limited impact. We also have this issue around having the requirement of getting a shipyard to sponsor us and endorse that we work for them before we can claim certain benefits. Any tax relief is welcome.

Mr Pek Ee Perh Thomas

President of Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association

Many Singapore food companies have gone overseas to seek new markets and relocate to low-cost countries. We expect the Government to a) provide more financial support, in terms of direct subsidies rather than tax breaks, in defraying the higher costs of constructing bigger and more presentable pavilions and better product displays to attract international buyers; b) help in meeting bigger orders from international buyers as Singapore food companies need to increase production capacities; c) assist in relocating to countries where the cost of operations is lower; d) facilitate synergising with the home base for companies with operations overseas; and e) further extend the PIC grant that helps SMEs to automate operations to cope with the labour crunch as well as raise productivity.

Mr Ho Meng Kit

CEO, Singapore Business Federation

Amid the current economic slowdown, companies face rising business costs, increased competition and the need to increase productivity. Without a clear indication of how long the uncertain economic situation will persist, Budget 2016 should include immediate and longer-term initiatives to circumvent these challenges and support growth, particularly for SMEs. I hope to see some relief in manpower policies, especially on foreign workers’ levies. There should be room not to carry through the planned increase in levies and to lower levies for the employment of skilled foreign workers. With the increasing focus on a value-creating economy, we hope that Budget 2016 can include measures to nurture innovative and entrepreneurial local companies’ full potential. These should include areas of innovation, internationalisation and manpower training.

Dr Timothy Low

CEO, Farrer Park Hospitals

As the Government looks to steer Singapore’s economic future and address the needs of our growing population, we hope to see greater focus in building resilience in our healthcare system. While we have been seeing great progress with more hospitals being built and improvements to our national healthcare schemes, there is more that can be done, specifically where the private sector can contribute. In line with the suggestions made by the Health Minister on increased private sector collaborations, specifically in the areas of technology, affordability and knowledge sharing, we hope Budget 2016 will provide scope to support collaborative efforts between public and private healthcare sectors. This will help in implementing programmes to address future healthcare challenges and serve patients.

Mr Derrick Teo

CEO, Elitez

The Government has been supportive of local businesses and much effort was made to help SMEs via a broad-stroke strategy. However, certain policies must be tweaked. The current PIC grant has had little impact on productivity gains. I hope to see a) the introduction of an 80-hour per annum per local employee absenteeism payroll, up to S$23.60 per hour (based on a monthly salary of S$4,500), as this encourages more SMEs to send employees for upgrading; b) defraying of legal and consultancy costs for mergers and acquisitions, rather than tax allowances to encourage SMEs to amalgamate and compete with MNCs; and c) rewards to SMEs that have a lower-than-allowable number of foreign workers to strengthen the Singaporean core without heavily penalising certain industries that are still reliant on a foreign workforce.

Compiled by Rumi Hardasmalani

rumih [at] mediacorp.com.sg

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