(A) Addressing Near-Term Concerns
In view of the current economic conditions, the Government will provide calibrated measures to address cyclical headwinds while supporting firms to seize opportunities and press on with restructuring.
(A1) Enhancing Corporate Income Tax Rebate
The existing Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Rebate will be raised from 30% of tax payable to 50% of tax payable, with a cap of $20,000 rebate each year for Year of Assessment (YA) 2016 and YA 2017. The higher percentage rebate is targeted at SMEs. The increased support will cost an additional $180 million over 2 years.
(A2) Extending Special Employment Credit
The Special Employment Credit (SEC) will be modified and extended for 3 years, to the end of 2019. This will provide employers with a wage offset for workers aged 55 and above earning up to $4,000 a month1.
Employers with Singaporean workers aged 65 and above will continue to receive a wage offset of up to 8%. This is in addition to the wage offset of 3% for the re-employment of workers aged 65 and above till the re-employment age is raised in 2017. The SEC will be up to 5% for workers aged 60 to 64 and up to 3% for those aged 55 to 59. (Refer to Table 1)
The Government will top up the SEC Fund by $1.1 billion to meet the needs of the SEC over 2016 - 2019.
(A3) Loan Assistance for SMEs
To support viable SMEs that may have cash flow concerns or wish to continue growing their business, the Government will introduce a new SME Working Capital Loan scheme, for loans of up to $300,000 per SME. Under this scheme, the Government will co-share 50% of the default risk of these loans with participating financial institutions, to encourage lending to SMEs.
The SME Working Capital Loan will be available for three years, starting from 2016.
(A4) Enhancement to Revitalisation of Shops Scheme
The Government will enhance the Revitalisation of Shops package, to better support promotional activities and upgrading projects in HDB town centres and neighbourhood centres. SPRING will also work with the Federation of Merchants’ Associations Singapore and local merchant associations to strengthen their capabilities to support heartland businesses.
(A5) Foreign Worker Levy Changes
In view of challenging business conditions in the Marine and Process sectors and the reduction in the number of Work Permit holders in these sectors, the Government will defer levy increases for Work Permit holders in these sectors for one year. Manufacturing Work Permit levies will remain unchanged this year, as announced at Budget 2015.
The Government will proceed with levy increases for Services and Construction Work Permit holders, as well as S Pass holders in every sector, as announced in Budget 2015.
Industry Transformation Programme
In Budget 2016, the Government will launch a new Industry Transformation Programme to help firms and industries create new value and drive growth.
The three key thrusts under the Industry Transformation Programme are:
- Transforming through Innovation
The Government will set aside a total of $4.5 billion2 under the Industry Transformation Programme, to support enterprises and industries, on top of the amounts for R&D and National Productivity Fund.
(B) Transforming Enterprises
(B1) Business Grants Portal
To help firms access the many grants from various agencies more easily, the Government will launch the Business Grants Portal in the fourth quarter of 2016. The Portal will organise these grants along core business needs of i) capability building, ii) training and iii) international expansion. The portal will start with grants from IE Singapore, SPRING, STB and Design Singapore and progressively include grants from other Government agencies.
(B2) Automation Support Package
To support companies to automate, drive productivity and scale up, the Government will introduce a new Automation Support Package for a period of 3 years.
It will comprise four components:
- Grant support for the roll-out or scaling up of automation projects at up to 50% of qualifying cost, with a maximum grant of $1 million
- Investment Allowance of 100% for automation equipment, in addition to the existing capital allowance
- Improve access to equipment loans under SPRING’s Local Enterprise Finance Scheme (LEFS) by enhancing Government’s risk-share with Participating Financial Institutions from 50% to 70%. This will also be expanded to cover equipment loads for non-SMEs at 50% risk-share.
- IE Singapore and SPRING will partner businesses where appropriate to access overseas markets
(B3) Financing and Tax Incentives to Support Scale-Ups
To provide more support for our SMEs to scale up, the Government will:
- Expand the SME Mezzanine Growth Fund from the current fund size of $100 million to $150 million3, by providing additional funding of up to $25 million to match new private sector investment on a 1:1 basis.
- Grant the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) allowance on up to $40 million of consideration paid for qualifying deals, instead of the current cap of $20 million to support more M&As. With the enhancement of the M&A allowance rate to 25% as announced in Budget 2015, companies can now enjoy up to $10 million of M&A tax allowances per YA.
- Extend the upfront certainty of non-taxation of companies’ gains on disposal of equity investments based on existing scheme parameters, until 31 May 2022.
(B4) Support for Internationalisation
To encourage our SMEs to internationalise, the Government will:
- Support more firms in their internationalisation efforts through assistance such as the Global Company Partnership and Market Readiness Assistance programmes.
- Extend the Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation scheme, till 31 March 2020. This covers qualifying expenses incurred for activities such as participation in overseas business development and investment study trips.
(C) Transforming Industries
(C1) National Trade Platform
The Government will develop a one-stop trade information management system called the National Trade Platform to support firms, particularly those in the logistics and trade finance sectors. This will be developed as an open innovation platform to enable other service providers to develop value-added services and apps for the system. The National Trade Platform will eventually replace the existing TradeNet and TradeXchange systems.
(C2) Leveraging New Technologies
The Government will make available over $450 million over the next 3 years under the National Robotics Programme to support robotics development and deployment across sectors such as Healthcare, Construction, Manufacturing and Logistics.
(C3) Increasing outreach through Trade Associations and Chambers (TAC)
To help our TACs strengthen their outreach, the Government will introduce a new Local Enterprise and Association Development-Plus (LEAD-Plus) programme. This will build on the existing LEAD programme to provide wider funding support for TACs to attract talent, develop their capabilities, and strengthen their processes and services.
To forge closer partnerships, and enable public officers to better understand the needs of our enterprises, the Government will also second up to 20 public officers over the next five years to interested TACs as part of the LEAD-Plus programme.
To encourage TACs to lead the development of industry-wide solutions for common challenges, SPRING will partner TACs to drive 30 such projects over the next three years.
(D) Transforming through Innovation
(D1) Deepening Innovation Capabilities
- Up to $4 billion under the RIE 2020 Plan will be directed to industry-research collaboration, to deepen industry capabilities in innovation and R&D.
- The Government will provide a top-up of $1.5 billion to the National Research Fund in 2016 to support RIE 2020 initiatives.
- The Government will now allow businesses the flexibility to write down the cost of acquiring IP over different periods of 5, 10 or 15 years, instead of the current 5 years only4.
(D2) SG-Innovate: To promote start-ups in new and existing industries, the Government will set up a new entity called “SG-Innovate”. SG-Innovate will match budding entrepreneurs with mentors, introduce them to venture capital firms, help them to access talent in research institutes, and open up new markets.
(D3) Jurong Innovation District: To create an open and innovative urban environment, the Government will launch the Jurong Innovation District, which will bring together learning, innovation, research, and production to create products and services of the future.
(E) Supporting Our People through Change
As we seek to transform enterprises and industries through the Industry Transformation Programme, the Government will provide support for our people to adjust to change and seize new opportunities.
(E1) ‘Adapt and Grow’ initiative
To help our people adapt to changing job demands and grow their skills, the Government will enhance employment support through the “Adapt and Grow” initiative. More details will be announced by the Ministry of Manpower at the Committee of Supply.
(E2) TechSkills Accelerator
To enable our people to learn new ICT skills quickly, the Government will set up TechSkills Accelerator, a new skills development and job placement hub for the ICT sector. Major IT employers and associations, including SiTF, SCS and ITMA5, will partner IDA in this effort. More details will be announced by the Ministry of Communications and Information at the Committee of Supply.