Budget 2020: $8.3 billion for economic transformation and growth

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at an event at the Singapore Sports Hub on June 16, 2019. (Photo: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Government is allocating a total of $8.3 billion over the next three years for economic transformation and growth, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (18 February).

The amount includes sums allocated in previous years, he said during his Budget speech.

“As a small, open economy, we must continue to strengthen partnerships with the world,” said Heng.

Singapore already has an extensive network of economic linkages, including Free Trade Agreements, International Investment Agreements and Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements.

Beyond these linkages, the Government will enhance digital connectivity to create new value Heng said, noting that annual investments in FinTech have risen five-fold between 2015 to 2019 to over $1billion.

Players from different domains and the region are also coming together to bid for digital banking licences, he pointed out.

On strengthening partnerships within Singapore to bring good ideas to global markets, Heng said, “Within each industry we need to strengthen partnerships to deepen industry-wide capabilities. Even as our enterprises compete to differentiate themselves, they must come together to solve common challenges.”

He noted that Singapore was one of the first cities to allow autonomous vehicle testing on public roads, and many players have set up shop in the Republic to test out their technologies. And in the biomedical industry, the number of startups has doubled from 2014 to over 300 now.

“In fact, our research institutes are part of the global fight against COVID-19, developing rapid diagnostic kits already in use here and sent to China. This is is one of the fruits of our long-term investments in research and innovation,” Heng said.

Meanwhile, Enterprise Singapore will launch a pilot Executive-in-Residence programme for Trade Associations and Chambers to hire experienced executives and provide expert advice to enterprises in their industries. Likewise, Enterprise Singapore will launch a new Heartland Enterprise Upgrading Programme to support Merchants’ Associations to drive transformation of heartland businesses, Heng said.

On startups, Heng noted that there are about 3,800 tech startups and about 150 venture capital funds investing in startups here and in the region. The Government will set aside an extra $300 million under the Startup SG Equity for deep-tech startups, or those in emerging technology areas such as pharmbio and medtech, advanced manufacturing and agri-food tech.

“We expect this to draw in more than $800 million of private funding over the next 10 years. This will give deep-tech startups better access to capital, expertise and industry networks,” said Heng.

The Government will also enhance support for businesses by launching the GoBusiness platform, a single touchpoint for companies to transact with the Government digitally, expand the SMEs Go Digital programme and enhance the Market Readiness Assistance grant.

Finally, the Government will introduce an Enterprise Transform Package, focusing on business leadership. Enterprise Singapore will launch the Enterprise Leadership for Transformation Programme to support business leaders of promising SMES. Over the next three years, the Government aims to support business leaders of 900 companies in business transformation, with training and mentorship.

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