12 March 2015
Learn how to make the most of this year's Budget at a seminar next week
Fiona Lam

Featuring speakers and a panel discussion moderated by BT associate editor Vikram Khanna, the seminar will help participants understand the implications and possibilities of the Budget. The event is organised by BT Digital and The SME Magazine and supported by StarHub and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

BUSINESS owners and entrepreneurs will be able to learn from experts how to make the most of Budget 2015 at an upcoming seminar next Tuesday.

Featuring speakers and a panel discussion moderated by BT associate editor Vikram Khanna, the seminar will help participants understand the implications and possibilities of the Budget. The event is organised by BT Digital and The SME Magazine and supported by StarHub and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The panel comprises Victor Tay, chief operating officer of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF); Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME); Amos Kek, head of enterprise marketing at StarHub; Irvin Seah, DBS economist; Jow Lee Ying, tax specialist and senior lecturer at Nanyang Business School, NTU; and Leslie Loh, entrepreneur and chairman of Lithan Hall Academy.

Some of the panel members will also speak individually about the Budget. One of them is SBF's Mr Tay, who will give the big picture on the Budget and the Singapore economy, talking about the impact of past and current Budgets on business, as well as the outcome of economic restructuring.

He pointed out that the emphasis during Singapore's budding years was on attracting foreign direct investment from multinational corporations. That focus, he said, has more recently shifted to entrepreneurship and internationalisation as well as productivity and quality.

After Mr Tay runs through past Budgets, he will zoom in on the last five years to talk about the Economic Strategies Committee's targets for 2020 which were set in 2010. Business owners can also find out from him what they can do, moving forward, to optimise the business landscape and opportunities.

ASME's Mr Wee will cover how businesses can get the most out of the support schemes in the Budget while keeping in mind the challenges ahead. Costs and the manpower shortage are two main issues high on his agenda. "I plan to discuss the traditional problem of rent, wage costs, and the lack of measures in bringing down business costs," he said. He will also talk about schemes which business owners can tap, such as those offering subsidies and cash incentives to train professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), and programmes and grants which help businesses in their productivity drive.

Another subject he will touch on is internationalisation. He sees an "urgent need" for local businesses to move beyond Singapore so they have a much bigger market and a bigger base to spread their costs, and achieve better economies of scale.

Lithan Hall's Mr Loh will give his take on how the Budget can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) leverage technology and manpower, "grow their upside, reduce costs, and improve their bottom line". Besides discussing how businesses can use SkillsFuture to circumvent labour shortage, he will also touch on how Budget measures support innovation in SMEs - "from the incubation of ideas, product development, market validation, to international distribution".

Similarly, NTU's Ms Jow will focus on how certain measures can address the needs of SMEs as the government pushes for greater productivity. "Overall, the Budget initiatives could be seen to support SMEs in financing, capabilities development, and internationalisation," she said.

Some non-tax initiatives Ms Jow will highlight during the panel discussion are enhancements to the Capability Development Grant (CDG) Scheme; the higher levels of support under the Market Readiness Assistance and Global Company Partnership grants (which co-fund SMEs in internationalising); and a new venture debt risk-sharing programme.

Tax initiatives which may be of special interest to SMEs include the International Growth Scheme, she said. She will also talk about changes to the mergers and acquisitions scheme, which allow SMEs making smaller acquisitions to qualify for and benefit more from the allowance.

The Budget seminar takes place on March 17, from 2.30-5pm, at the SPH Auditorium, News Centre. Registration fee is S$10. As seats are limited, registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up at https://eventreg.asiaone.com/ register/Budget2015

 - The Business Times

Read more: http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-budget-2015/learn-how-to-make-the-most-of-this-years-budget-at-a