Businesses want more initiatives to help ease manpower crunch

Businesses want more initiatives to help ease manpower crunch

Some local and foreign companies operating in Singapore said their profits have been hit by the foreign worker policy in Budget 2012.

SINGAPORE: Some local and foreign companies operating in Singapore said their profits have been hit by the foreign worker policy in Budget 2012.

This is according to a survey finding by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

Only one-third of companies surveyed said the 2012 Budget was helpful.

Other companies said their profit margins have dropped, as the government's foreign worker policies in 2012 have increased their business operating costs.

2012 has been a tough year for some industries, like the manufacturing sector.

Some companies had expected a helping hand from the 2012 Budget.

Instead, measures like the foreign worker quotas have put more strain on their profitability.

Victor Tay, chief operating officer of Singapore Business Federation, said: "For 2012 Budget, one-third of them appreciated and said it's a good budget. It actually targeted on special employment credits. It targeted on productivity, and training.

"But some two-third of them highlighted that they didn't find it useful. Out of which some 15 per cent said some of the budget measures conversely increased their business costs. And I think particularly, they may be referring to the levies, the foreign workers levies."

According to the latest SBF National Business survey, 39 per cent of large MNCs and GLCs, and 56 per cent of local companies said profit margins have dropped as their businesses were impacted by the government's foreign worker policies in 2012.

Forty-five per cent of overall respondents said they were not affected.

Meantime, SBF said the business outlook for the next six months remains subdued.

SBF said the top three concerns of companies surveyed are labour cost, economic uncertainty, and slower earnings growth.

This is due to the Eurozone debt crisis, and the slowdown in US and China economies.

Chen Yew Nah, managing director of DP Information Group, said: "When we ran the Q1 and Q2 forecast, generally the business sentiment has been pretty flat. So from the turnover expectations over a quarter ago, it looks like it's practically a little bit tempered downwards, but (remains) at the 51-(range)-index. They also shared that profit expectations will be further dampened."

Mr Tay said: "A lot of businesses are asking if the government can be more granular in their treatment of the foreign workers. Are they able to allow continuous access to foreign workers? In view of the tight labour market right now, there are a lot more budget wishes in this light to help reduce and defray the business cost."

SBF said companies are looking for more government goodies in the 2013 Budget Wish-List.

This is to help them offset higher rental costs and worker levies.

Business leaders also hope that the government can tweak the foreign worker policy to meet to the needs of different sectors.

Source: CNA/fa

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