The Finance Minister said in his Budget 2019 speech that economic transformation is critical. He outlined three key areas of the Budget that would help support this transformation.
- Building deep enterprise capabilities
- Building deep worker capabilities
- Encouraging strong partnerships, within Singapore and across the world.
He said that $4.6 billion would be invested over the next three years on the new and enhanced economic capability-building measures, and to support Singaporean workers, and that $3.6 billion will go towards helping workers to thrive amid industry and technological changes with $1 billion going towards helping firms build deep enterprise capabilities.
Building Deep Enterprise Capabilities
The minister said that companies and workers must stay on top of rapid advances in technology, especially in digital technology. The government will continue to help SMEs adopt digital technologies. One example of how they are doing this is the SMEs Go Digital programme. Around 4,000 SMEs have adopted pre-approved digital solutions since the start of this initiative.
He said that Accountancy, Sea Transport, and Construction will get their own industry digital plans, with more sectors to be added later. These will guide SMEs on relevant digital technologies and skills training programmes.
They will also expand the number and range of cost-effective, pre-approved digital solutions that will be supported under SMEs Go Digital, to boost technology adoption among SMEs.
MAS and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will also jointly pilot a cross-border innovation platform for SMEs, known as the Business sans Borders, with an Artificial Intelligence-enabled marketplace to help our SMEs match with buyers and vendors globally.
To help companies in the services sector capture opportunities from digitalisation, the Ministry of Communications and Information launched a pilot of the Digital Services Lab (DSL) in November last year. The DSL brings together industry and the research community, to co-develop digital solutions with sector-wide impact.
Government Agencies must embrace technology
The Finance Minister also said that government agencies must embrace technology to serve companies better and that they had made progress in this area.
The Business Grants Portal, launched in 2017, provides a one-stop shop for businesses to identify and apply for the right grant for their plans.
To make it easier for businesses to transact with the Government, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and relevant agencies are developing a one-stop portal, with a pilot to be launched for the food services sector by 3Q 2019. Businesses will deal with only one point of contact, instead of up to the 14 different ones today.
BCA and HDB are also testing the use of drones to inspect building facades more effectively. Learning from these pilots, government agencies will continue to innovate, and improve the ease of doing business.
Equipping Singaporeans with skills for digital environment
Mr Heng Swee Keat said that the budget would not only to support Singapore enterprises to build deep capabilities so that they can succeed in the global competition. But the ultimate goal is to enable Singaporeans to continue to have good jobs and opportunities, and to be at their best. Hence, the second thrust of the economic transformation in this Budget is to deepen the capabilities of Singaporean workers.
We want our people to have the skills, knowledge, and attitude to adapt and thrive in this competitive and technology-intensive environment. On the part of the Government, we will continue to invest in our people across all stages of their lives, from pre-school, to work. the Finance Minister said.
With the national SkillsFuture movement and the Adapt and Grow initiatives, this has enabled Singaporeans to reach their fullest potential throughout life, and help those affected by restructuring. The government is continuously supporting workers to upgrade their digital skills and become future ready.
Global perspective on innovation
The third key area is to build on global partnerships, so that firms and people can forge new areas of collaboration with other innovation centres.
In Budget 2017, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA)was launched, one of the Committee on the Future Economy’s recommendations. We have now established nine nodes in global start-up hotspots, such as Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Jakarta, and San Francisco. These GIA nodes give our entrepreneurs and students opportunities to learn and build networks globally.
Economic transformation is critical
Mr Heng Swee concluded his speech on transforming the economy by saying “Economic transformation is critical.We expect to spend $4.6 billion over the next three years on the new and enhanced economic capability-building measures in Budget 2019, and to support Singaporean workers.”
“$3.6 billion will go towards helping our workers to thrive amid industry and technological changes. $1 billion will go towards helping firms build deep enterprise capabilities.”