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SINGAPORE BUDGET 2018

Singapore Budget 2018: Pact scheme to include tie-ups among SMEs

Govt allots S$100m over next three years for new programme that brings together four existing schemes

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Partnership among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups will qualify for the integrated Pact programme from April 1, removing the existing requirement for such tie-ups to be between large organisations and SMEs.

Singapore

PARTNERSHIPS among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups will qualify for the integrated Pact programme from April 1, removing the existing requirement for such tie-ups to be between large organisations and SMEs.

For this new Pact, the government has allocated S$100 million over the next three years, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said in his ministry's Committee of Supply debate yesterday.

Administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore, the integrated Pact brings together four existing schemes: EDB's and Spring's respective Partnerships for Capability Transformation (Pact) schemes; Spring's Collaborative Industry Projects; and IE Singapore's Global Company Partnership Grant.

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It will support up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs for partnerships in capability development - including co-innovation and knowledge transfer - and business development, including business alliances and pooling resources.

Mr Iswaran also announced other moves to help firms expand. Spring's pilot Venture Debt Programme, originally set to end this month, will be extended for another three years through March 31, 2021. The scheme lets local high-growth SMEs apply for venture loans of up to S$5 million.

The Market Readiness Assistance grant, which defrays the costs of exploring overseas opportunities, had its level of support raised in Budget 2015 from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. Meant to end this month, this higher level of support is now extended for two years through March 31, 2020.

And to help local business leaders gain a deeper understanding of the region, the Asean Leadership Programme will be launched in the second half of this year by Enterprise Singapore and the Human Capital Leadership Institute.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said: "Besides the knowledge of business cultures and leadership styles in key South-east Asian markets, the Asean Leadership Programme will also arm participants with the chance to go in-market to learn from, as well as to network with, both private and public sector leaders."

Singapore's efforts to strengthen its engagements with Asean were highlighted by Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang.

As part of its Asean chairmanship this year, Singapore is pursuing an Asean Agreement on E-Commerce. This will streamline some e-commerce regulations across member countries, making it easier to market products and services regionally, and safer to send and receive electronic payments.

Singapore will also work on an Asean Innovation Network to strengthen links between innovation ecosystems.

Through the network, businesses can link up for collaborations and testbedding. An update will be given in the second half of the year.

Beyond Asean, Singapore is aiming to strengthen its position as a trade hub with the new Trade Infrastructure Development Fund, announced Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

To be implemented in the second quarter of this year, the Fund will offer grants for the development of business-to-business e-marketplaces.

It will also support the creation of non-bank trade financing, such as specialised trade finance funds, and projects that strengthen Singapore's commodity derivatives offerings.

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SINGAPORE BUDGET 2018

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