Mr Heng Swee Keat, Finance Minister spoke yesterday at Stewardship Asia Roundtable 2019 with the theme “Business Future (Re)discovering Stewardship”. He spoke on global trends such as the rapid emergence and convergence of new technologies and the growing economic and strategic weight of Asia.
He said that these trends have implications on how to steward organisations in Singapore. He went on to to share three ways in which to be good stewards of the future: first, invest in innovation; second, invest in people; and third, invest in the community.
Invest in Innovation
As technology advances, and with global economic and strategic weight shifting towards Asia, supply chains will reconfigure. Businesses have to be quick to innovate, in order to stay relevant and competitive.
He said “Companies need to make the effort to understand new developments in technology in their fields, consider how these can be adopted and integrated into existing business processes, and create new value.”
Invest in People
To keep up with the fast-changing environment, the Minister said that leaders must empower workers to develop an attitude and spirit of continuous and lifelong learning.
Leaders can facilitate this by promoting upskilling and reskilling among workers, and utilise the skills that workers have learned or re-trained, this is so that technological advancements will help workers do their jobs better, smarter, and not replace them.
The Minister continued “I announced in this year’s Budget that the Government will spend 3.6 billion Singapore dollars over the next three years to help our workers thrive amid economic transformation.”
Government initiatives like the SkillsFuture and Professional Conversion Programmes have helped workers to pick up new and relevant skills, and put them into practice in an increasingly technology-intensive work environment.
Apart from raising capabilities, investing in people also means that companies should look after the health, safety and welfare of workers. Companies can adopt progressive employment best practices and promote fairer and more progressive workplaces.
Invest in Community
The Minister’s third point focused on investing in the community. He said that ‘Each of us plays a part in building a caring and giving society that takes care of the needy and vulnerable.’
‘Companies should not just do well – they should also do good. Companies have an integral and multiplier role to play by offering their expertise and resources, and mobilising employees to create impactful and sustainable corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. ‘
Singapore Government supports Caring In Business
In Singapore, the “Company of Good” is a very good initiative to recognise that people are at the heart of every company. The actions of people are what will create Singapore, where every organisation is giving back in one way or another. To complement these efforts by companies, the Government will continue to enable and catalyse community efforts.
To support corporate volunteerism, the government introduced the Business and Institution of a Public Character Partnership Scheme (BIPs). Under BIPs, businesses enjoy a 250% tax deduction on qualifying expenditure incurred when they send their employees to volunteer and provide services to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs).
In addition to the existing tax deductions on qualifying donations, we rolled out the Bicentennial Community Fund this year, which will provide dollar-for-dollar matching or donations made to IPCs. Singapore is commemorating the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in Singapore.
The Government has also launched the SG Cares movement to promote active volunteerism, bottom-up initiatives and everyday acts of kindness across Singapore.
Mr Heng Swee Keat concluded that “Ultimately, a caring and cohesive society requires everyone, including businesses, to come together to do good for a more sustainable tomorrow.”