Perception of Government Support for Businesses in Singapore
- All Industries - | 12 Dec 2022
Perception of government support for businesses in Singapore
Singapore is well known for its business-friendly environment for companies. Some factors contributing to this positive perception include the ease of starting a business, excellent infrastructure, a highly educated workforce, pro-enterprise laws and tax system, and good government support and policies for businesses.
The World Bank has described Singapore as one of the most business-friendly regulatory environments in the world for local entrepreneurs and ranked the nation among the globe’s most competitive economies. Other rankings also continue to report Singapore favourably such as EIU’s business environment rankings (BERs), which states that “Singapore remains the best place in the world to do business in the next five years.”
From our study, IndSights Research found that Singapore’s business policies and its government’s ability to nimbly adjust to the constantly changing market and global trends were well regarded by business leaders. This played an important role in building business confidence amid global market uncertainties and instabilities, which this summary finding will explore further in detail.
In general, participating firms seem to be well-equipped in terms of knowing the types of business support available to them. In reaching for further growth, apart from manpower and financing support, businesses also reported that they were looking for the right partnerships with other companies in Singapore.
Sentiments towards Singapore and its Policies
IndSights’ survey results showed that as a business destination, Singapore’s political stability was the most positively rated factor, followed by its infrastructure and amenities, and tax environment.
The cost of doing business was among the top factors that mattered for companies’ future expansion plans, alongside the business climate and access to quality local manpower. Among companies which rated cost of doing business in Singapore as average or lower, a majority attributed this to high labour costs and infrastructure or space rental costs.
Looking at business-related policy decisions made by Singapore in the last two years, more than 4 in 10 companies reported that the impact from these policies was largely positive, while a similar proportion felt that there was a mix of both positive and negative impact.
A majority of companies polled felt that Singapore’s business-related policies were better compared to other markets, especially for companies with business operations in South-East Asia. According to Asia Briefing, businesses operating in Singapore will enjoy over 80 double taxation avoidance agreements, considerable tax deductions, and various free trade agreements, compared with those in neighbouring Asian countries. This can be attributed to the nation’s business and investor-friendly legal, tax, and financial systems.
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Government’s Programmes and Support Schemes
IndSights found that slightly more than half of all businesses that established operations in Singapore had received some form of support from the Government. The most common government support received were in the form of information on Singapore’s business environment and regulations, financial support or grants, and tax incentives.
As the world recovers from the pandemic, Singapore too is transitioning into a society with greater collective action through programmes to support businesses. Even before, but intensified during the COVID years, Singapore sought to accelerate digital adoption and innovation. Other support included programmes to help companies hire local talents (e.g., WSG Enhanced Hiring Incentive), boost marketing capabilities (e.g. EDG Strategic Brand and Marketing Development grant), and help with establishing overseas offices (e.g. Market Readiness Assistance Grant).
When asked about the factors that companies will need to grow business operations in Singapore, respondents felt that manpower or talent support was most needed. More than a third are also looking for partnerships with Singapore-based companies.
Resources for businesses
Singapore offers a range of support schemes to help businesses thrive. Interestingly, many businesses with overseas offices also recognised that Singapore companies have been and continue to be well supported by the Singapore government compared to other countries.
Other common feedback from the industry chats were that government support schemes for businesses were well-intentioned and useful, but often confusing because of the plethora of programmes available. The following are some resources to help local business sieve through the numerous programmes to find and/or be matched with the appropriate support schemes:
This is a complimentary service where WSG’s career consultants will help match job openings to suitable local candidates and provide advice to improve the company’s recruitment processes.
GoBusiness is the go-to platform for businesses in Singapore to access Government e-services and resources. By answering a few simple questions, the platform will be able to help businesses find the relevant schemes for its needs, and offer personalised help and recommendations through its e-Advisers.
Starting a business requires considering factors including infrastructure, strategic location, political, and economic stability. Singapore, one of the world’s most connected cities, checks many of the boxes for business owners. Notwithstanding the positive perception of the government’s support for businesses in Singapore, companies think that the Government can do better in some areas.
The annual survey by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI) for 2022, which found similar concerns around rising business costs as IndSights did, also included a section on government schemes. SCCCI’s findings showed that apart from government schemes, respondents want government agencies to be better coordinated in cross-agency issues that affect businesses.
In addition, SCCCI’s respondents also desire more relevant initiatives from trade associations to help their members, and for government-linked companies and large businesses to provide more opportunities for SMEs to participate in.
IndSights Research arranges for one-to-one industry chats with business leaders to better understand issues companies face operating in Singapore. If you would like to contribute to the conversation, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange an appointment.
About the Study
This survey was conducted in September 2022 with 1,171 business leaders from various sectors such as the Advanced Manufacturing, Professional Services, Information & Communications (ICT), Healthcare, Financial Services, Retail, Real Estate, Food Services, Hotels, Wholesale Trade, Logistics, Land Transport, Construction, and Other Services.
Of the participating companies, 83 percent had an office based in Singapore. Companies with offices based overseas were as follows: Southeast Asia – 53 percent, Europe – 43 percent, China – 41 percent, North America – 39 percent, and Other North Asia – 33 percent.
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