The ISCA Pre-Budget Roundtable 2012 was co-chaired, for the third consecutive year, by Ms Jessica Tan, Chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade & Industry and Dr Ernest Kan, President of Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.
The robust roundtable discussion by industry leaders forming the panel, and observed by senior officials from various government agencies, focused on the theme of Jobs, Productivity and Growth. The discussion highlighted five key areas for deliberation by the Government in Budget 2012.
The first is the need to re-look at the range of government incentives to better support businesses. Panellists raised issues faced by businesses in utilising these incentives. To encourage greater adoption by businesses, the incentives should be more targeted, their qualification criteria made more accessible, and their application process simplified.
The second is the need to manage escalating costs without reducing the impetus to innovate. Some panellists highlighted that rental, manpower and land costs had driven business costs upwards significantly, and reducing Singapore’s competitiveness as a result. Concerns were raised that government policies had artificially raised costs (for example, levies) and left firms with little resources to innovate and raise productivity.
The third is establishing conditions to allow businesses to add more value or innovate. Structural changes need to be initiated and incentives well thought out to create the right business environment.
The fourth is the need to incentivise the transformation of the services sector. This sector has the potential to maintain, if not boost, Singapore’s future growth. There should be more initiatives established to accelerate the transformation of the services sector in Singapore.
Finally, there is a need to find ways to help Singapore companies work together in concert and leverage on each other to better seize opportunities overseas.