ISCA, with a membership of 28,000 professional accountants, conducted a Pre-Budget 2014 Survey, which received 435 responses from the accounting and business community, comprising key segments of professional accountants, CFOs, public accountants and SMEs.
The outlook, as cited by respondents, appeared to be generally positive for many businesses as they continue to restructure. Although the global economy looks set for higher growth, many businesses, especially SMEs, continue to face challenges with their restructuring and productivity efforts.
The Budget 2013 has provided impetus and support for Singapore businesses to restructure and stay competitive. However, the survey findings showed that many businesses faced significant challenges as the Government continues to tighten the supply of our foreign workforce. Beyond manpower, they are also very concerned about the increasing business costs, in particular, rental costs. Many of them indicated that they need more support to become more productive. Further, businesses appeared to be more focused on conventional activities compared to innovation or capability transformational activities.
Based on the survey findings, items that could be considered in Budget 2014 follow:
1. Fine-tune measures on foreign labour and business costs, in particular, to review need for manpower measures that increase costs as opposed to measures that are non-cost in nature.
2. Encourage companies to focus on activities that promote innovation and capability transformation which have the potential to increase value add and competitiveness significantly
3. Fine-tune schemes for innovation and capability transformation to facilitate take-up.
4. Increase support and enhance measures to help companies venture overseas.
5. Provide more healthcare and tax savings to help households cope with increasing costs
The Institute also organised an annual Pre-Budget Roundtable on 8 January 2014, where a panel of business leaders from various industries and sectors would discuss a range of issues pertaining to the coming Budget 2014. The discussions, together with the survey findings, will provide critical and important insights about relevant measures that can help businesses overcome the key challenges cited in the survey. As the national accountancy body, ISCA will also work closely alongside businesses and stakeholders, particularly our members, to help them in their efforts to restructure, raise productivity and stay competitive in the year ahead.