We would like to assure Mr Liew Meow Koon ("Ensure SME help schemes are helpful" - ST, 31 August 2013) that building a strong and competitive SME sector is a key priority for the Government.
The government provides many funding schemes to help SMEs. We adopt a consultative, not prescriptive approach, and constantly take in feedback to review our schemes. For example, setting up the Capability Development Fund that combined different schemes into one.
We also run extensive outreach efforts to the business community. For example, we are setting up integrated one-stop SME Centres and satellite SME Centres across the island so that even smaller businesses in the heartlands can seek face-to-face business advice.
At the recent National Day Rally, the Prime Minister announced a new SME Workgroup led by MOS Teo Ser Luck, and comprising Business Leaders and Advisors. The SME Workgroup will widen and deepen engagement with the business community to better understand sectoral concerns and challenges and assist the government to tailor better programmes to help SMEs.
Mr Liew suggested that the Innovation and Capability Voucher (ICV) be expanded in scope to help SMEs. Each ICV allows an SME to defray $5000 from the cost of engaging service providers to upgrade their capabilities. Each SME can apply up to 8 vouchers. The ICV is intended to encourage smaller SMEs to take their first steps towards capability building. Hence, the ICV supports the SMEs under areas such as innovation, productivity, human resources and financial management.
SMEs which have benefitted from ICV can consider taking bigger steps to improve and grow their businesses. For such projects, SMEs can apply for support from SPRING's Capability Development Grant.
There are many schemes that SMEs can tap on at different stage of their development. For more information, please visit www.spring.gov.sg.
Mrs Cindy Keng
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Trade and Industry