SBF SME Convention 2014: Economic Restructuring - Are we there yet?
- SBF-led SME Committee (SMEC) reveals two new initiatives:
- A Fair Tenancy Consideration Framework to help SMEs negotiate for fairer tenancy agreements
- Recommendations for broader SME participation in government procurement as a strategy for SME development
- SBF and SPRING collaborate in the Partnership for Capability Transformation (PACT) programme to help accelerate capability development of SMEs
In his opening address, Guest-of-Honour Minister of State (MOS) for Trade and Industry Mr Teo Ser Luck acknowledged the strain that businesses are feeling and experiencing and the difficulties they face in the restructuring journey. He reiterated the government’s commitment to support SMEs and urged them to take effective steps, for example, through the investment in technologies and innovation, upskilling of their workforce, or by developing internationalisation strategies.
At the convention, SBF revealed two new initiatives led by the SMEC. The first initiative is a Fair Tenancy Consideration Framework which sets out the principles and guidelines for fair tenancy practices. The Framework spells out the general elements of a fair tenancy agreement such as tenancy terms and liabilities, transparency of fees and charges, as well as tenancy renewal and termination. Currently, it covers shop spaces like retail and F&B outlets as these premises are most affected by changes in rental charges and conditions. The Framework is intended as a guide for voluntary adoption by the industry.
The second initiative is a Position Paper on “Giving SMEs Greater Access to Government Procurement”. Recognising how government procurement can serve as a channel to help SMEs build up experience and track record, some of the recommendations include creating greater awareness and networking opportunities, setting up an accreditation scheme to help SMEs to bid for government tenders, as well as recognising the contributions of sub-contractors involved in government projects.
Commending the SMEC for these initiatives on behalf of the business community, MOS Teo noted that the government procures more than $10 billion dollars worth of goods and services every year and it is worthwhile to study what more can be done to help SMEs bid for government contracts.
MOS Teo also announced that SBF and SPRING Singapore will be working together to identify and implement Partnership for Capability Transformation (PACT) projects. The PACT programme aims to enhance the capabilities of SMEs through partnership with large organisations that involve co-innovation, technology test-bedding, knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices. Through this programme, SMEs can accelerate capability development, build track record and expand their businesses.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the SMEC, Mr Lawrence Leow, noted that the three-year Transition Support Package (TSP) rolled out by the government in 2013 to help companies restructure had reached its half-way mark. Mr Leow highlighted the need to ensure a balance between business sustainability particularly for SMEs, and achieving the main goals of economic restructuring. He commented “While we recognise the need for economic restructuring as a means to position Singapore for greater economic growth, we acknowledge, at the same time, the difficulties which companies struggle with during the process.”
Cognizant of the challenges faced by businesses, Mr Leow gave the assurance that the SMEC will step up efforts to actively engage government agencies to identify existing gaps, where SMEs require greater support, and to collaborate with the government to address them accordingly.