Business Sentiments of Local Companies in FY21 Q4
- All Industries - | 05 May 2022
Business Sentiments of Local Companies
(FY21 Q4: Jan to Mar 2022)
Singapore businesses remained optimistic about revenue and manpower outlook in the period of January to March 2022. The relatively positive outlook of Singapore’s economy might be attributable to the falling COVID-19 daily case numbers and a decline in the hospitalisations and ICU numbers, following which Singapore relaxed its COVID-19 protocols significantly in March 2022.
The further relaxation of measures as of 26 April 2022 is expected to further buoy industry sentiments in the next quarter. As Singapore continues to take strides towards living with COVID-19, industry sentiments should continue to improve, alongside more favourable revenue figures across most industries.
It is not just Singapore that is relaxing measures. Asia too is shifting to live with COVID. Countries taking steps to ease restrictions included Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. The gradual opening of Asia bodes well for Singapore, which is economically dependent on its neighbours and other economies.
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Perceptions of Singapore’s Economy and Industry Situation
The overall perceptions of the Singapore economy saw an uptick in positive sentiments to 29 percent, up from 22 percent in the previous quarter. Companies’ future economic outlook remained largely positive at 49 percent.
Companies were less negative about their current industry situation, with fewer rating it “Poor” at 34 percent, down from 41 percent in the previous quarter. A majority foresee their industry situation to be the same or better in a year’s time, with 42 percent expecting the future industry sentiment to be “Better”.
Year-on-Year (Y-o-Y) Revenue and Manpower Changes
Comparing with the previous quarters, more businesses experienced a decrease in Y-o-Y revenues, although the situation seems to have improved. Food Services, Retail and Wholesale Trade sectors saw a higher proportion of companies with revenue decreases in Oct to Dec 2021. Nevertheless, companies remained optimistic that revenues will improve in the next two quarters.
35 percent of companies reported an increase in revenue, an increase from the previous three quarters which hovered at around 30 percent. In addition, 37 percent reported a decrease in revenue for the period of Oct to Dec 2021, down from 45 percent in the previous quarter.
In addition, more than half of the companies polled reported that they were profitable in FY2021.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore (MTI) announced on 17 February 2022 that the Singapore economy expanded by 7.6 percent in 2021 and MTI has maintained the GDP growth forecast at three to five percent in 2022.
MTI’s estimates were made against the backdrop of some global predictions in 2022 including:
- The growth of the US economy is projected to be slower than anticipated
- Regarding the Eurozone, some of the targeted restrictions are expected to weigh on the economic activity in the near term but its economic growth is expected to pick up over the year
- China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to slow because of its COVID-19 measures, and its property market slowdown continue to dampen consumption and investment growth
- Key Southeast Asian economies of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are expected to grow faster due to a pickup in domestic demand, robust external demand, and progress in vaccine deployment
MTI’s press release was announced before the Russian-Ukraine war, which will surely impact future economic estimates. The negative impact of the conflict was alluded to in a post-Budget 2022 roundtable organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, where Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong both warned that the war had dimmed Singapore’s economic outlook.
In addition to the Y-o-Y revenue changes, IndSights Research found that most Singapore companies maintained their headcount in the period of Oct to Dec 2021. Manpower changes remained stable from the previous quarter and companies in Precision Engineering, Environmental Services and Logistics sectors were among those reporting the most manpower reductions in Oct to Dec 2021. Nevertheless, the manpower outlook remained positive, with 31 percent of companies projecting manpower growth in Jan to Mar 2022.
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Singapore Budget 2022
Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong delivered Singapore’s FY2022 Budget Statement on 18 February 2022. In his budget statement, Mr Wong spoke about providing targeted help for workers and businesses to various sectors that are still struggling. Minister Wong also spoke about the need to accelerate transformation and develop new capabilities to stay ahead of the competition. To this end, he announced that Workfare would be enhanced, and the Progressive Wage Model was launched. Speaking on the need to invest in new capabilities, Minister Wong also announced several schemes to build digital capabilities, push for pervasive innovation, and strengthen the local enterprise ecosystem and productivity.
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Among the suite of Budget 2022 measures polled, more companies thought that the $500 million Jobs & Support Package, Extension of Jobs Growth Incentive, and Extension of Progressive Wage Model and Introduction of Progressive Wage Credit Scheme would have a positive impact on them.
COVID-19 Restriction Measures
IndSights Research also found that the proportion of companies that support the gradual re-opening of the Singapore economy has been growing steadily. 77 percent of companies polled said that Singapore should gradually reopen the economy while tolerating the daily number of COVID-19 cases, if our medical system is able to cope – up from 70 percent in the previous quarter.
We expect that Singapore companies will welcome the most recent, further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions which started on 26 April 2022. Businesses can look forward to changes such as:
- All employees can return to the workplace
- Vaccination-differentiated safe management measures will be removed from all settings, with a few exceptions
- Workforce vaccination measures will also be lifted nationally
- Capacity limits removed for large events with more than 1,000 participants
- All fully vaccinated travellers entering Singapore via air or sea checkpoints will no longer need to take a pre-departure test
Additional Government Support Measures
The Singapore Budget 2022 announced a slew of support schemes that companies can tap on. Aside from the top three budget measures that were seen to have a positive impact on companies, the following are some other noteworthy support schemes.
Small Business Recovery Grant (SBRG)
This grant provides one-off cash support of S$1,000 for each local employee, up to a cap of S$10,000 per firm. The grant is meant to help Small, Medium Enterprises (SME) that have been most affected by COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, including those in the Food and Beverage, Retail, Tourism and Hospitality sectors.
Singapore Global Enterprise (SGE) Initiative
Support for promising local enterprises to innovate, internationalise and attract local talent. The support will be enhanced in four ways:
- developing global-ready executives
- creating new corporate ventures
- facilitating mergers & acquisitions
- creating enhanced access to financing
Temporary Bridging Loan Programme
The programme will help SMEs manage their immediate cash flow needs by providing access to working capital for their business needs.
READ ALSO: Additional business resources
About the Study
Our recent survey was conducted in January to March with 1,422 business leaders from: Environmental Services, Food Services, Logistics, Retail, Information & Communications, Security, Wholesale Trade, Real Estate, Air Transport, Land Transport, Sea Transport, Hotels, Construction, Financial Services, Professional Services, Food Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education, Aerospace, Electronics, Energy & Chemicals, Marine & Offshore, and Precision Engineering.
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