MTI Debate – Supporting SMEs

I delivered the following speech was delivered during the Ministry of Trade & Industry Committee of Supply debate today.

SMEs have borne much pain from a tight labour market and continuously higher industrial and commercial rents.

Supporting SMEs is vital to lift productivity across a huge swathe of our economy. In Germany and Switzerland, SMEs are celebrated as drivers of exports and economic growth[1]. Some of their mid-sized companies have world-class capabilities and are global leaders in their fields.

We should aim to help some of our home-grown companies become global leaders.

First, I echo the concerns of members who have called for attention on industrial and commercial rents. We have already lost the ability to manage rental costs, having ceded buildings that the government once controlled to REITS, which now dominate the market. In commercial retail, REITS, with their huge collective hold on the market can force up prices, sometimes steeply with each renewal. I call on the government to look at intervention measures, including having more industrial space of its own to set desired rental benchmarks and to provide checks on the rental practices of REITS in the malls as described by various members earlier.

Next, financing. MLP has provided 3,500 loans to small companies over the last 2 years.[2] Even with government’s increased risk share, banks may still not be willing to lend to start-ups with short track records.  MTI had said it does not monitor the success rate of loan applications for MLP. I hope SPRING can work with banks to raise the awareness of MLP and other schemes, and monitor the success rate of applications. It could intervene should banks be found to remain unduly cautious.

Also, there are many SME schemes, administered by different government agencies. The range of schemes is daunting and are often difficult for the ‘小白兔’ (little rabbit) type of small companies Mr Teo Siong Seng spoke about, to take up.

I am concerned that some schemes are too prescriptive. My colleague Mr Giam had in his Budget speech cited the example under IPG, where IDA pre-qualifies vendors for sectoral solutions under iSPRINT.

SMEs will be limited to these vendors if they want a fuss-free way to tap on IPG funds. SMEs sometimes know which solution they want. A pre-qualified list may restrict the development of new innovative solutions.

I declare that I had used grants from various agencies previously. Other than PIC, I have found the rest challenging in terms of application, approval wait time, making claims and writing of reports.

Perhaps we can learn from the PIC. PIC benefitted from much publicity. Can we “push” schemes to SMEs by requiring the completion of a simple questionnaire in the annual filing to ACRA? This questionnaire could ask about planned investments in training, software, automation, and so on that are not receiving scheme support. Based on responses, forms for relevant schemes or SME Centre officers could be dispatched to the companies.

Thank you.


2 comments on “MTI Debate – Supporting SMEs

  1. Many thanks JJ for sharing what you spoke in Parliament.

    SME – the bosses should know how to find the niche markets.  I was told to read up “Blue Ocean’.

    Money and grants will not work if the bosses are unable to find the Blue Ocean in the Red Ocean.

      kind regards, God bless with His Divine Light, kok tim

    my website contacts: ; search: Tan Kok Tim Twitter: tankoktim and other links, google search: tankoktim

  2. Hi JJ again,

    Helping SMEs or helping those unemployed uni graduates over 50 years old. Relevant to check out Famous quotes of Thomas Edison:

    Thomas Edison famous quotes “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” ― Thomas Edison

    “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ― Thomas Edison

    “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” ― Thomas Edison

    “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” ― Thomas Edison

    “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” ― Thomas Edison

    “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ― Thomas Edison

    “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” ― Thomas Edison

    “There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” ― Thomas Edison

    “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.” ― Thomas Edison

    “The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~ ” ― Thomas Edison

    “I never did a day’s work in my life, it was all fun.” ― Thomas Edison

    “Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.” ― Thomas Edison   warmest regards, God bless with His Divine Light, kok tim

    my website contacts: ; search: Tan Kok Tim Twitter: tankoktim and other links, google search: tankoktim

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