The Business Times

Budget 2017 lays foundation, but much remains to be seen

Published Tue, Feb 21, 2017 · 09:50 PM
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THERE are very few tax changes in Budget 2017. While there are opportunities to simplify the tax regime and make it more competitive, these were not taken. Perhaps it is wise to exercise caution in this period of rapid global change. There are threats to global trade with the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and challenges to other trade agreements. Gross domestic product growth in the developed world is already low and protectionism may be on the rise. Furthermore, disruption from digitalisation and technological advancements present dangers as well as great opportunities.

With this backdrop, the Committee of Future Economy (CFE) recently issued its report with seven key strategies. In many respects, Budget 2017 breathes life into the CFE recommendations. For example, there are targeted measures for small and medium-sized enterprises to embrace digitalisation, innovate and scale up to global operations.

Budget 2017 recognises that fundamental changes need to be made to the regulatory environment to foster the spirit of innovation and risk-taking. To this end, forward-looking measures such as regulatory sandboxes will be further developed and implemented. Risk-assessment schemes will also be refined to be more efficient and responsive, so as to shorten product testing and market life cycles. The liberalisation of the regulatory environment will, however, need to be balanced to ensure that the interests of our people and society as a whole are preserved.

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