The Budget 2016 signifies a new era – an era that is governed by a new decade (following SG50), new government (following 2015’s general election), and a new Finance Minister. Despite this, most of the expert panel at the discussion held by The Straits Times last March 26 agreed that the strategies taken by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat was evolutionary.
Although he stayed on the path of restructuring for long-term growth and building social cohesion, as laid down over the past years, he had three main shifts in his approach. These shifts were namely: more financial help for companies, working closely with the people, and more funds for innovation.
MORE FINANCIAL HELP FOR COMPANIES
One of the most noticeable changes is seen in the government’s approach towards firms. With the S$4.5 billion Industry Transformation Package, Budget 2016 extends its financial help to companies with open arms. This promotes greater entrepreneurial spirit.
Another policy called the “Automation Support Package”, which will cost more than S$400 million over 3 years, is aimed at helping the companies to upgrade the utilization of automation in their operations. It will subsidize up to 50% or S$1 million of a project in order to help companies to expand the use of machines and progress more – even internationally.
WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE PEOPLE
In facing the challenges of tomorrow, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is positioning the government as more of a partner than a leader.
As the Budget is given to the trade associations, companies, and unions, the solution is in their hands. Regardless of which industry you belong to, the government is going to help the firm (of a certain size) to grow!
MORE FUNDS FOR INNOVATION
The last change is seen on Mr. Heng’s approach to focus more on innovation than productivity. In his speech, he highlights that innovation does not require high-tech software or robots. Instead, innovation is in the application of existing technologies in creative and lateral ways.
Supporting this approach is the upcoming S$100 million National Trade Platform. It will allow service providers to develop applications or value-added services on top of the platform. This is similar to an open-source environment. With this new scheme, an uncharted venture awaits!