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High manpower and rental costs threaten Singapore firms

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The biggest threat for businesses in Singapore in the coming years is the prospect of global economic instability, a new survey has found.

This is closely followed by rising rental costs, an increasingly tight labour market and increasing business regulations.

According to KPMG’s pre-Budget 2015 poll of respondents representing SMEs, large Singapore and multinational companies, 57% of firms say they see global economic uncertainties as the biggest barrier to business in the next 12 months.

Additionally, 41% said rising rental and labour costs are a top operational concern. Just 10% were worried about improving productivity.

When it comes to incentives for innovation, 54% of businesses would like a wider definition of “innovation” to encompass more automation and training activities, while 44% of Singapore companies said they plan to expand their regional presence over the next three years.

Tay Hong Beng, head of tax at KPMG Singapore said these findings prove there is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity, but there needs to be a bigger focus on innovation as a driver for economic growth.

“Looking ahead even as Singapore celebrates 50 years as a nation, developing more Singapore-based companies that can compete globally at the higher end of the value chain should become a priority,” he said.

He added it is also time to take another look at the popular Productivity and Innovation (PIC) scheme, taking stock after five years.

“We need to recognise that businesses at different stages of growth have differing needs. For example, younger businesses need more help with automation and training, while more mature businesses need to be more innovative to realise higher productivity gains.”

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