Budget 2014: Continued efforts to transform economy, create higher quality jobs
- POSTED: 21 Feb 2014 21:48
Singapore's Budget 2014 is a continuation of past efforts to transform the economy and create higher quality jobs for Singaporeans, said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Friday.
SINGAPORE: Singapore's Budget 2014 is a continuation of past efforts to transform the economy and create higher quality jobs for Singaporeans, said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Unveiling the Budget in Parliament on Friday, he extended a popular productivity support programme and announced new measures to get construction firms to adopt more labour-saving practices.
Mr Tharman, who is also the deputy prime minister, said: "To reach advanced country incomes, we must develop advanced country capabilities -- the corporate and managerial skills, the ability to translate research and development into commercial opportunities, and deep skills and expertise in the workforce."
He described the various measures adopted in recent years as "a major, multi-year undertaking", and said Singapore has begun to see some progress as mature industries such as precision engineering and food manufacturing re-tool their factories.
More restaurants are sharing services -- such as logistics -- to become more efficient, he added.
Some of the new initiatives announced by Mr Tharman on Friday included the extension of the government's popular Production and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme for another three years, with enhancements to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The extension of the PIC will cost the government a total of S$3.6 billion, he said.
Another major thrust unveiled involved getting firms, in particular SMEs, to adopt information and communications technologies that will help them become more efficient.
For example, the government will subsidise building owners up to 80 percent of the costs of new in-building infrastructure that will help tenants take advantage of Singapore's new, high-speed nationwide broadband network.
SMEs will receive subsidies if they subscribe to broadband plans with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second. These companies will also get some support to provide Wifi access via Wireless@SG at their premises.
For young SMEs that often face financing challenges because they lack a track record, the government will take on 70 percent of the risk of lending to these companies, up from 50 percent previously.
As for the construction industry, which has seen productivity fall in the past six quarters, Mr Tharman unveiled a few initiatives aimed at encouraging change across the whole ecosystem.
The new measures include mandating the use of productive technologies such as prefabricated parts as a pre-requirement for companies bidding for industrial land at government land sales.
Mr Tharman said: "Budget 2014 will strengthen support for early adopters of new technologies, and for SMEs who are going beyond the norm in their upgrading efforts.
"We will also promote wider adoption of high-impact productivity solutions, beyond the early adopters to a larger group of firms in the industry. This will include a major effort to scale up the use of Infocomm Technologies by SMEs."