Govt to invest $4.6b to boost businesses, support workers, Latest Business News - The New Paper

Govt to invest $4.6b to boost businesses, support workers

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$3.6 billion will be set aside to help workers during disruptions

Around $4.6 billion will be invested to boost businesses and support Singaporean workers over the next three years.

Of this, $3.6 billion will be earmarked to assist workers during industrial disruptions while $1 billion will enable companies to grow their deep enterprise capabilities.

"But let me emphasise that supporting companies and supporting workers are mutually reinforcing," Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget speech yesterday.

"Stronger companies provide better jobs and pay for workers, and highly skilled workers make companies stronger."

Start-ups and small and medium- sized enterprises will also get help:

•l A Scale-up SG programme by trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) that aims to help high- growth companies innovate, grow and venture overseas.

•l A two-year pilot where companies can get advice on innovation opportunities and ways to commercialise technology from "Innovation Agents" - industry veterans with expertise in technology and business.

•l An additional $100 million for a new SME Co-

Investment Fund III to help companies draw in "smart, patient capital that attracts investors with the expertise and the right time horizon". The fund is expected to bring in another $200 million for SMEs during fund-raising.

•l An Enterprise Financing Scheme, to be launched in October, that will combine ESG's eight financing programmes covering trade, working capital, fixed assets, venture debt, mergers and acquisitions and project financing.

•l The Government will take on up to 70 per cent of the risk for bank loans, up from 50 per cent in most existing schemes, made by companies that have been incorporated for less than five years.

•l The extension of the existing SME Working Capital Loan scheme until March 2021.•

l Trade associations and chambers will develop five-year plans to map out how they can help their industries transform. The Government is also working with partners on the secure exchange of electronic trade documents to lift productivity.

Government assistance will be available in a tiered manner to help companies build deep enterprise capabilities, said Mr Heng.

Large companies will get customised support from the Economic Development Board, ESG and other agencies, while SMEs will be supported through "scalable solutions".

These measures come amid an expected moderation of global economic growth this year. Singapore's economy grew by 3.2 per cent last year compared with 3.9 per cent in 2017.