ISCA, with a membership of over 28,000 professional accountants, conducted the Pre-Budget Survey 2015 which received 400 responses from the accounting and business community, comprising key segments of professional accountants, CFOs, public accountants and SMEs.
Singapore businesses continue to restructure and drive towards higher value-added activities. In this respect, our survey findings highlight how businesses and accounting firms are responding to continued restructuring, their usage of government schemes, and key focus areas for them to stay competitive or to venture overseas.
Indeed, the survey findings show that while business costs are a concern for many respondents, government schemes such as the PIC, PIC bonus, and wage credit scheme are generally perceived to be useful in helping firms raise productivity. Further, even as the majority of respondents felt that the pace of restructuring was acceptable, challenges – such as staff and management’s inability to change and adapt, and not having internal capability to reorganise – have also been cited.
Based on the survey findings, items that could be considered in Budget 2015 are: 1. Offer more support for businesses to strengthen talent and improve capabilities for business restructuring or business strategy development and execution, so as to enhance competitiveness.
2. Offer support to businesses in areas deemed to be of greater concern, such as rental, hiring or training costs, while finding new ways to incentivise businesses to focus more on innovation or other higher value-added activities, such as design and research.
3. Consider extending the duration of government schemes. Businesses express the desire for schemes to remain in place longer, in order for businesses to be effective in raising productivity. A majority of respondents hope for government schemes to continue for a duration of at least 3 to 10 years.
4. Review schemes that are deemed relatively less useful, such as iSprint, Micro Loan Programme (MLP) and WorkPro.
5. Enhance measures to help companies venture overseas, particularly in the areas of tax knowledge and overseas network establishment.
6. Continue to provide support to households in areas deemed contributing to high cost of living, e.g. healthcare and housing.
The Institute also organised the annual Pre-Budget Roundtable on 13 January 2015, where a panel of business leaders from various industries and sectors discussed a range of issues pertaining to the coming Budget 2015. The discussions, together with these 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 with businesses and stakeholders, particularly our members, to help them in their efforts to restructure, raise productivity and stay competitive in the year ahead.