The announcement of the Budget 2020 for Singapore is fast approaching and businesses are beginning to reveal what they hope to see. Many have cited bread-and-butter issues that they would like to see addressed; while others have set their sights on longer-term issues such as sustainability and support for local brands.

In a survey conducted recently by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), it was found that business costs and rising wages were cited as being among the key concerns for businesses. As such, businesses are hoping that the Budget 2020 will include generous tax reliefs and better access to government resources.

Several companies have told the Business Times acknowledged the importance of policy moves that will pay off in the longer term, such as stronger advocacy for local businesses.

Chief strategy officer of Singapore-listed ISOTeam, Albert Teng, said: ”greater support for home-grown companies when calling for high-value contract tenders. This could mean, for example, giving priority during the selection process to local companies with strong track records”.

Via this method, home-grown companies would be given more chances to take on bigger and higher-value projects; as well as being an effective way to encourage them to strengthen their capabilities.

Vincent Lim, chief executive of BH Global, which provides technical services to the offshore and marine sector, expressed hope that the government would give local SMEs and their products a chance in project tenders.

“We have developed world-class products which are selling well in developed countries elsewhere, but are not recognised in local government projects,” he said.

Other SMEs have also cited an obligation to support sustainable business practices. As well as ensuring that their business thrives, these SMEs also said that they hoped the government’s plan for expenditure and revenue would also include measures to help them do more for the sustainability cause.

Longer-term issues aside, Singapore businesses undoubtedly still grapple with perennial problems of day-to-day operations, such as manpower and cash flow. Some SMEs that the Business Times spoke to have called for a review of the foreign worker policy, despite the government’s refusal to budge from this stance in the past few years.

Liquidity also remains an issue, as raised by one firm in a construction-related sector. This comes as SMEs in the sector can expect to have less access to financing in the first half of 2020, as found by a quarterly survey by the SBF and global information services company Experian.

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