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SBF engages Trade Associations and Chambers in Budget 2017 Briefing

28 February [Singapore] - Following the 2017 Budget Statement unveiled by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat on 20 February 2017, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), held a briefing for the Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) at The Treasury today. The event served as a platform for the TACs to better understand and seek clarifications on the measures of Budget 2017. This, in turn, helps them to better communicate how the available schemes can benefit their members, as well as provide the opportunity for the TACs to deepen collaboration with the Government.

Today’s briefing was well attended by 140 TAC representatives from 51 TACs. At the session, representatives from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) explained Budget 2017’s key initiatives for businesses.

One highlight was the lively Q&A panel session moderated by Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, with representatives from MOF, SPRING Singapore and the Info-communications Media Development Authority, where the TACs shared with the Government representatives their feedback and queries on Budget 2017.

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Permanent Secretary, MOF, said "I am happy that SBF is partnering MOF to bring information on Budget 2017 to the TACs. The Budget has several measures to help businesses, both in the near and medium terms. By working together, we can do more. The forum is also a good way for MOF to get first-hand feedback from the business community. I am glad the TAC representatives have been both candid and constructive in their feedback. SBF plays a critical role in reaching out to them, and we look forward to continued support from SBF as we work together to strengthen Singapore's economy.”

Mr Ho said “SBF has been partnering MOF annually to organise this engagement with the TACs on the Singapore Budget since 2011. These seminars have always been useful as the TAC participants get a first-hand understanding of the policy intention driving the Budget measures for businesses from the Government officials. SBF plays its role by facilitating dialogue and collaboration between the business community and the Government through such events.

This year’s Budget focused strongly on preparing our businesses for the future economy. As businesses transform and adapt in order to thrive, TACs have an important and critical role to play in helping their members build new capabilities, leverage technology and expand overseas. SBF will continue to work closely with the Government on implementing the different measures announced in Budget 2017 and the Committee on the Future Economy’s recommendations. We are also closely monitoring how our businesses are reacting to the Budget measures and CFE recommendations.”

Dr R. Theyvendran, Chairman of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said “The CFE recommendations make it abundantly clear that the business community has to be prepared for a major transformation in how we think and operate in the future economy. Our SMEs need to adopt new technologies and relentlessly build on our digital capabilities to survive and thrive in the economy of the future. Budget 2017 has clearly addressed these issues and we look forward to working with the Government agencies, trade associations and other chambers to meet these challenges.”

Mr Kurt Wee, President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, said “The current budget correctly positioned help in two strategic areas; digitisation and on matters facilitating IP. These are two key areas that can give Singapore businesses an edge when interfacing regional competition. Our ecosystem framework is ripe in giving our businesses these leverage to take them to the next phase of growth.”

Mr Kenneth Loo, President of the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL), said “SCAL appreciates the government’s targeted approach to help the construction sector by bringing forward $700 million public sector works as private sector demand dwindles. We are also encouraged by the $150 million Public Sector Construction Productivity Fund to facilitate the adoption of productive technologies and innovation in the construction industry. However, we share the broader sentiments that more could be done to help companies with rising business costs, particularly in the construction sector, to hold back the planned increase in foreign worker levy.”

Mr Victor Mills, Chief Executive of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, said “Collaboration between chambers is not yet a natural occurrence. Therein lies both the challenge and the opportunity for all us. We need to come together, first to build trust and then to collectively innovate and reduce duplicated effort to serve our members and our country better. This is both important and urgent.”

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