Heng Swee Keat, the Finance Minister of Singapore presented budget 2017 on February 20, 2017. Buzzwords like innovation, partnership and adaptability were used in his speech.
To foster an innovative economy, he also emphasised on the need to build capabilities and partnerships. To further describing enterprises as the ‘heart of vibrant economics’, he mentioned about the importance of digital technology businesses need and embracing innovation. Some of the key highlights for SME and start-ups from the Budget 2017 are:
1. SMEs Go Digital Programme: This programme will help SMEs to build digital capabilities. Through the sectoral Industry Digital Plans, SMEs will get technology advice at each stage of their growth. A new SME Technology Hub will be set up by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SMEs will also get in-person help at SME Centres.
2. Adapt and Grow: Through this initiative, the government will enhance 'Adapt and Grow'. Now an ‘Attach and Train’ initiative will also be introduced to secure attachments, rather than full-time positions, for workers to train themselves for jobs of the future.
3. The Wage Credit Scheme: This scheme will continue to help firms cope with rising wages. More than SGD 600 million are expected to be paid out to businesses next month, and roughly 70 per cent of this amount will be to SMEs.
4. The Special Employment Credit: This scheme will continue to provide employers with support for the wages of older workers till 2019. More than SGD 300 million, which will benefit 370,000 workers, will be paid out in FY2017.
5. The Government will enhance the Corporate Income Tax (CIT): rebate by raising the cap from SGD 20,000 to SGD 25,000 for YA2017. The rebate will remain at 50 per cent of the tax payable. The CIT rebate will be extended for another year to YA2018, at a reduced rate of 20 per cent of the tax payable, capped at SGD 10,000. The enhancement and extension will cost an additional SGD 310 million over YA2017 and YA2018.
6. A*STAR Headstart Programme: This will allow SMEs to co-develop Intellectual Property with A*STAR to enjoy royalty-free and exclusive licenses for 18 months in the first instance. This may also get extended to 36 months. For companies seeking access to intellectual property, Intellectual Property Intermediary, a SPRING affiliate, matches them with IP that meets their needs. It will work with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to analyse and bundle complementary IP from Singapore and overseas.
7. SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative: It aims to groom Singaporean leaders by expanding leadership development programmes. This includes sending promising individuals on specialised courses and overseas postings. For a start, the programme will target 800 potential leaders over three years.
8. National Research Fund: The Government will top up the National Research Fund by SGD 500 million to support innovation efforts, while the National Productivity Fund will be topped up by another SGD 1 billion to support industry transformation. SGD 2.4 billion will be set aside over the next four years to implement the CFE strategies.
9. International Partnership Fund: The Government will commit up to SGD 600 million for a new International Partnership Fund. The Fund will co-invest with Singapore-based firms to help them scale-up and internationalise.
10. Global Innovation Alliance: This will be set up for Singaporeans to gain overseas experience, build networks and collaborate with their counterparts in other innovative cities. It will have three programmes: Innovators Academy for tertiary students, Innovation Launchpads for entrepreneurs, and Welcome Centres for innovative foreign companies.