Singapore is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. It's economy has put up numbers so impressive they are nothing short of surprising over the last few years, including the occasional quarter of 20%+ GDP growth. Singapore is the world's 40th largest economy, a title it earns from varying efforts related to growing its business potential: strict anti-corruption measures, low inflation rates, ongoing strategies to remain a destination for tourists and business travelers, low debt, plenty of IT, major industrial and manufacturing growth, a strong port, AAA credit ratings from the major credit bodies and a growing, robust labour class with low unemployment.
However, perhaps the most prominent factor contributing to Singapore's growth is the country's strong ongoing support for its own businesses. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore figure prominently into the budget. The country has made a definitive statement to its own businesses that it is there for them to succeed, providing SMEs the opportunity to collect grants, financing, credit and other support in the form of officially sanctioned government programmes. And with the release of the new 2014 budget, Singapore has made even more of an effort to support SMEs.
Here are four clear-cut advantages laid out for SMEs in the 2014 budget and how Singapore companies can take advantage of them.
#1: Singapore is opening the door to new Info-Comm Technology investments that will transform businesses.
For all of its technological advancements, Singapore is still a country known for brick and mortar popularity. For that reason, not all SMEs are up to date on the latest technologies. On the other hand, technology is on a clear upward trajectory and is evolving toward a far more advanced state, suggesting that future technologies may be a requirement for Singaporean SMEs- or at least an advantage.
The new Singapore budget takes that issue into account clearly and seriously, outlining a new initiative specific to ICT technologies that should help bring the country's businesses into the next generation. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will now cover up 70% of costs up to $1 million per firm to implement ICT technologies, paying vendors directly so as to help companies avoid the burden of applying for the subsidy. IDA will also subsidize companies willing to pilot emerging ICT (80% up to $1 million per firm).
How to capitalize on the ICT fund in the Singapore budget: Apply. Singapore companies have an inside shot at these technologies and would benefit greatly from being a part of the first adopters who take them on. While the subsidy is not 100%, it is large enough that companies looking to drastically sharpen their technological capabilities should be able to upgrade at a reasonable rate. The pilot programme offers the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve, and while those programmes have an inherently higher risk in some respects, the higher subsidy percentage and implied dedication of the Singaporean government to make the programme work are comforting to the average business owner.