Budget Speech


    Steady Growth in 2018 Amid Challenges

  1. A vibrant and innovative economy provides our people with the opportunities to realise their potential and to have a better life.
  2. Our efforts to transform our economy are bearing fruit. In tandem with the global expansion, the Singapore economy grew 3.2% in 20181.
    1. Good growth translated into good outcomes for our workers. Over the past five years, the real median income of Singaporeans has grown by 3.6% per year2.
  3. Global growth is expected to moderate in 2019, while uncertainties and downside risks in the global economy have increased.
  4. Strengthening Singapore’s Economic Competitiveness

  5. Over the years, our sound monetary and fiscal policies have enabled us to weather global economic crises and keep inflation stable. These provide a stable environment for investors to make long-term investment decisions.
  6. Beyond maintaining a supportive macro-economic environment, we need to build a sound micro-economic foundation, so that resources can be allocated to their best possible uses; and to undertake structural reforms, to enable our workers and firms to adapt and stay competitive.
    1. Every firm and every worker will need to work differently, master new skills, and use technology well. And we must continue to create new opportunities, including through partnerships with others.
  7. In Budget 2016, we launched the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), which drive transformation at the company, industry, and economy-wide levels. Each ITM integrates four key pillars of transformation: jobs and skills; innovation; internationalisation; and productivity. These are mutually reinforcing pillars to maximise impact.
  8. To coordinate efforts, the Future Economy Council brings together leaders from the Government, industry, Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs), unions, and academia.
  9. After three years of intensive work, I am glad that all 23 ITMs have been launched, covering about 80% of our economy. We are seeing good progress, aided by the global economic upturn in recent years:
    1. Productivity, as measured by real value-added per actual hour worked, grew 3.6% per year in the last three years, higher than the 1.6% per annum growth recorded in the preceding three years, from 2012 to 20153.
    2. In particular, we have seen strong performance by outward-oriented sectors such as Manufacturing, while others like Construction and some services industries continue to show weaker productivity growth.
  10. But this is a continuing journey. There is much more we can do, especially in sectors like domestic services. We must press on. Let me now outline three key thrusts in this Budget to support industry transformation:
    1. First, building deep enterprise capabilities.
    2. Second, building deep worker capabilities.
    3. Third, encouraging strong partnerships, within Singapore and across the world.

    Building Deep Enterprise Capabilities

  11. The basic building blocks of a vibrant economy are strong, competitive companies that maximise value creation. Hence, the first thrust is to support the building of deep enterprise capabilities.
  12. Companies at different stages of growth have different needs. The leadership of each company is in the best position to lead and drive changes, while our agencies can provide support at each stage of growth.
  13. Supporting Start-ups

  14. A vibrant start-up ecosystem encourages budding entrepreneurs to try out their business ideas. Such an ecosystem enables entrepreneurs to connect to mentors, prospective business partners, customers, and investors.
  15. Two years ago, we launched Startup SG to provide holistic support for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Such support ranges from co-investments and proof-of-concept grants, to mentorship and physical space.
  16. Our start-up ecosystem is flourishing.
    1. There are now over 220 venture capital deals per year in Singapore, worth close to US$4.2 billion4. This is a significant rise from the 80 deals worth US$136 million in 2012.
    2. Today, more than 150 global venture capital funds, incubators, and accelerators are based in Singapore, supporting start-ups here and in the region.

    Enabling Firms to Scale

  17. Start-ups can only thrive if they scale up, and venture into new markets. To help them do so, we will provide support in three areas: providing customised assistance, better financing options, and supporting technology adoption.
  18. Customised support can enable firms to identify and overcome the unique challenges they face, and scale up quickly.
    1. Enterprise Singapore will launch a Scale-up SG programme in partnership with the private and public sectors. Scale-up SG will work with aspiring, high-growth local firms to identify and build new capabilities, to innovate, grow, and internationalise.
    2. To support innovation, we will launch a pilot Innovation Agents programme, for firms to tap on a pool of experts to advise them on opportunities to innovate and commercialise technology. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
  19. Having smart, patient capital that attracts investors with the expertise and the right time horizon is another way to help firms scale-up. Over the past few years, the Government has worked on improving access to private capital for start-ups and SMEs. The pool of private equity and venture capital managers in Singapore has grown. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has simplified the regulatory regime for venture capital managers, and launched a US$5 billion private markets programme to encourage global private equity players to deepen their presence here.
  20. To further deepen the pool of smart, patient capital:
    1. The Government has, since 2010, set aside $400 million through two rounds of fund injections for the Co-Investment Programme (CIP) to invest in our SMEs, alongside the private sector. So far, the Government’s investments have catalysed approximately $1.3 billion of additional funding for our SMEs.
    2. This year, I will set aside an additional $100 million to establish SME Co-Investment Fund III. As part of the CIP, it will catalyse investment in Singapore-based SMEs that are ready to scale up. We expect that this will bring in at least $200 million of additional funding. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
  21. Loan financing remains an important source of funding for SMEs. Our banks have been responding. DBS provides a Business Capabilities Loan for innovative SME projects, UOB provides financial support for technology investments and overseas ventures, while OCBC finances new SMEs which lack the track record typically required for credit assessment. To catalyse these further, we will enhance the accessibility of loans.
    1. Today, our economic agencies have different financing schemes. To make it simpler for companies, we will streamline the existing financing schemes offered by Enterprise Singapore into a single Enterprise Financing Scheme that will cover trade, working capital, fixed assets, venture debt, mergers and acquisitions, and project financing. This will be launched in October this year. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
      1. In addition, the Enterprise Financing Scheme will provide stronger support for companies that have been incorporated for less than five years. The Government will take on up to 70% of the risk for bank loans to these young companies, compared to the current 50% under most existing loan schemes5.
    2. To support viable SMEs in their day-to-day operations, I will extend the SME Working Capital Loan scheme for about two more years, till March 2021. Since its launch in June 2016, the scheme has catalysed more than $2.5 billion of loans. We expect the extension to catalyse a further $1.8 billion. Support for working capital will be folded under the Enterprise Financing Scheme from October. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
  22. Our companies and workers must stay on top of rapid advances in technology, especially in digital technology.
  23. We will continue to help our SMEs adopt digital technologies:
    1. We launched the SMEs Go Digital programme in Budget 2017. Since then, around 4,000 SMEs have adopted pre-approved digital solutions.
    2. We will expand the SMEs Go Digital programme.
      1. First, Accountancy, Sea Transport, and Construction will get their own industry digital plans, with more sectors to be added later. These will guide SMEs on relevant digital technologies and skills training programmes.
      2. Second, we will expand the number and range of cost-effective, pre-approved digital solutions that will be supported under SMEs Go Digital, to boost technology adoption among SMEs. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
    3. MAS and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) will also jointly pilot a cross-border innovation platform for SMEs, known as the Business sans Borders, with an Artificial Intelligence-enabled marketplace to help our SMEs match with buyers and vendors globally.
  24. To help companies in the services sector capture opportunities from digitalisation, the Ministry of Communications and Information launched a pilot of the Digital Services Lab (DSL) in November last year. The DSL brings together industry and the research community, to co-develop digital solutions with sector-wide impact.
    1. For example, the DSL is exploring the development of solutions to integrate the logistics chain for retail in malls. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
  25. Besides digital technology, we will support our firms to integrate technologies and re-engineer business processes to raise efficiency and enhance product development.
    1. Last year, I announced the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), to help firms adopt off-the-shelf technology.
    2. This year, we will extend the Automation Support Package (ASP) by two years. Introduced in Budget 2016, the ASP supports firms to deploy impactful, large-scale automation, such as robotics, Internet of Things solutions, and other Industry 4.0 technologies. Since its launch, the ASP has helped more than 300 companies to automate their operations and raise productivity. We will extend the ASP to encourage more companies to do so. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
    3. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will extend its operation and technology roadmapping efforts to more companies and sectors, to guide them to make the best use of technology in alignment with their business goals.
  26. In the same spirit, our government agencies must embrace technology to serve companies better. We have made progress in this area.
    1. The Business Grants Portal, launched in 2017, provides a one-stop shop for businesses to identify and apply for the right grant for their plans.
    2. To make it easier for businesses to transact with the Government, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and relevant agencies are developing a one-stop portal, with a pilot to be launched for the food services sector by 3Q 2019.Businesses will deal with only one point of contact, instead of up to the 14 different ones today.
    3. BCA and HDB are also testing the use of drones to inspect building facades more effectively.
    4. Learning from these pilots, government agencies will continue to innovate, and improve the ease of doing business.

    Enterprise-Centric Approach

  27. Let me now touch on other ways to help build deep enterprise capabilities.
  28. We have more than 200,000 enterprises in Singapore, ranging from large MNCs to our neighbourhood shops.
  29. Today, across each of the four pillars of our ITMs, different agencies provide support in each area. While helpful, companies have given feedback that we could streamline these. I agree. To better support this broad base of companies with diverse needs, we will draw resources from each agency, but focus support in an enterprise-centric way to better help enterprises at each stage of growth. This will be done in a tiered manner.
    1. Firms with large and complex needs or with strong growth potential will be provided a range of customised support by the Economic Development Board (EDB), Enterprise Singapore, and other agencies.
    2. The large numbers of SMEs facing common challenges will be supported through scalable solutions that are easy to adopt. For instance:
      1. I recently visited Precursor Assurance, a local accounting firm. Precursor has developed an integrated digital solution with modules for corporate functions, such as HR, customer relationship management, and finance. SMEs can simply plug-and-play, and scale up the use of these modules when they expand.
    3. For medium-sized companies that are seeking to grow, we will provide targeted support, in each of the different industry clusters, to better address their needs as they grow.
  30. The Minister for Trade and Industry will provide further details.
  31. Helping Our People Seize Opportunities

  32. I have touched on the measures to support our enterprises to build deep capabilities so that they can succeed in the global competition. But our ultimate goal is to enable our people to continue to have good jobs and opportunities, and to be at their best. Hence, the second thrust of our economic transformation in this Budget is to deepen the capabilities of our workers.
    1. As the Chinese say, “活学活用,学以致用;终身学习,终身受用”. Our people need to be nimble to build industry-relevant skills throughout their lives.
  33. We want our people to have the skills, knowledge, and attitude to adapt and thrive in this competitive and technology-intensive environment.
    1. In this regard, the leadership of companies plays a key role. The leaders of successful companies are those who are committed to raising the capabilities of their workers, by redesigning jobs and reskilling their staff. These capabilities are key to the companies’ successes.
      1. I recently visited FairPrice’s distribution centre, which has adopted automated storage and retrieval systems to improve the efficiency of its online store operations.
      2. Among the staff I spoke to were Mr Amzah Bin Mohammad Ali and Madam Lee Yin Fong. Between them, they have worked at FairPrice for 30 years. I asked how the new technology has impacted their work. They told me that FairPrice’s training has helped them to quickly pick up new skills to make use of new systems, and their work environment is more pleasant and conducive.
      3. FairPrice is a good example of how an enterprise can strive to serve her customers better, deploy technology and new ways of working, and at the same time, redesign jobs and reskill workers, so that everyone is better off.
      4. Many enterprises are doing this, and I urge more to take this approach.
  34. On the part of the Government, we will continue to invest in our people across all stages of their lives, from pre-school, to work.
  35. Over the years, we have instituted a range of support measures for workers, including the Workfare Income Supplement, Special Employment Credit, and Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs), to name a few.
    1. These range from helping low-wage workers and older workers through wage support, to equipping young graduates to have a good start in their careers, and enabling experienced professionals to access new jobs.
    2. In particular, NTUC has been working closely with its member unions and companies, to enable workers to learn new skills and grow.
  36. With the national SkillsFuture movement and the Adapt and Grow initiatives, we have made a stronger push to enable our people to reach their fullest potential throughout life, and help Singaporeans affected by restructuring.
  37. Our investments in supporting our people in their careers, including Adapt and Grow initiatives and continuing education and training, reached more than $1.1 billion in FY20176.
  38. Our people are making good effort to invest in their learning, with good outcomes.
    1. The percentage of residents in the labour force who participated in training grew from 35% in 2015, to 48% in 20187.
    2. From 2016 to 2018, more than 76,000 jobseekers found employment through the Adapt and Grow initiative.
  39. Workers, firms, unions, and TACs all need to play a part to continue this progress.
    1. Workers need to embrace upskilling and reskilling, and make the most of new opportunities both locally and overseas.
    2. Firms must step up training and job redesign for their workers, as they are well-placed to know the skills that workers need as their sectors evolve.
      1. One example is Mr Abdul Jalil Bin Idros, who started as a technical officer at YTL PowerSeraya. Over the years, the company sponsored his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering. Through continuous learning as he worked, Mr Abdul Jalil moved from maintenance to managing plant upgrading projects. He is now training his colleagues in cybersecurity and systems operations. He received the SkillsFuture Fellowships Award in 2018 for his exemplary efforts.
    3. Besides workers and firms, unions, TACs, and professional bodies need to spearhead the reskilling and the upskilling of workers in various sectors.
      1. I am heartened by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants’ collaboration with the Singapore University of Social Sciences to develop the joint Business Analytics Certification programme. This programme, which was launched a year ago, equips accounting professionals with practical skills in data analytics.
  40. We will continue to enable our experienced professionals to build on their experience to move into new growth areas.
    1. Since the establishment of the PCP in 2007, over 100 PCPs have been launched in about 30 sectors. This year, we will launch new PCPs relating to blockchain, embedded software, and prefabrication to prepare our people to move into new growth areas.
  41. In 2015, we launched the Career Support Programme to provide wage support for employers to hire eligible Singaporeans who are mature and retrenched, or are in long-term unemployment. We will extend this programme for two years. (Refer to Annex C-2.)
  42. We must also ensure that the benefits of enterprise transformation are passed on to our workers.
    1. Starting from 1 Apr 2020, all transformation efforts supported by Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Development Grant must include positive outcomes for workers, such as wage increases.
    2. I know that NTUC and its unions are putting in extra effort and resources to support our firms and workers in this.
  43. Although some firms have done well to deploy their staff efficiently, productivity growth has been uneven across sectors.
    1. The manufacturing sector, which faces strong global competition, has done well.
    2. In the services sector, while some firms have done well despite a tight labour market, some segments like F&B and Retail remain very labour-intensive.
    3. Growth in S Pass and Work Permit holders in the services sector has also been picking up pace. The number has risen by about 3% per annum or 34,000 in the last three years. In particular, the S Pass growth in Services is the highest in five years. If this trend persists, foreign manpower growth will be on an unsustainable path.
  44. We need to act decisively to manage the manpower growth in Services, and encourage our companies to revamp work processes, redesign jobs, and reskill our workers. Our workforce growth is tapering, and if we do not use this narrow window to double down on restructuring, our companies will find this even harder in the future. Relying on more and more foreign workers is not the long-term solution – other economies are developing too. What we need is to have a sustainable inflow of foreign workers to complement our workforce, while we upgrade our Singaporean workers and build deep enterprise capabilities in these sectors. We must enhance the complementarities of our local and foreign workers.
  45. The basic approach to our foreign worker policies has remained consistent. Based on evidence on the pace of foreign worker inflows, and the progress being made in raising productivity across sectors, we need to calibrate our policies.
  46. The Government recognises the economic headwinds and cost pressures ahead of us. But if we do not take action early, our firms will find it harder to compete in the years ahead, and our workers will be left behind
  47. After much deliberation, we will adjust the workforce quota for the services sector:
    1. Reduce the services sector Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) in two steps, from 40% to 38% on 1 January 2020, and to 35% on 1 January 2021.
    2. We will also reduce the services sector S Pass Sub-DRC in two steps, from 15% to 13% on 1 January 2020, and to 10% on 1 January 2021.
    3. We are announcing these changes about a year ahead, to give companies time to prepare. For firms whose existing workers are in excess of the new limits, the DRC will apply as and when these firms apply for renewals of permits. (Refer to Annex C-3.)
  48. To support firms as they adjust to these changes, we will put in place the following measures, till FY2022.
    1. First, the 70% funding support level for the Enterprise Development Grant was due to lapse after 31 March 2020. I will now extend this enhanced funding support for three more years, up to 31 March 2023.
    2. Second, we will do the same for the Productivity Solutions Grant, and expand its scope to support up to 70% of the out-of-pocket cost for training. (Refer to Annex C-3.)
  49. Separately, firms can continue to apply for additional manpower flexibilities in certain cases.
    1. The Lean Enterprise Development Scheme provides support to firms that undertake transformation projects which lead to more manpower-lean businesses. Transitional manpower flexibilities can be considered if firms need more resources in the short term to transit to new operating models.
    2. On a case-by-case basis, firms can bring in foreign workers with specialised skills that are in demand globally. This is provided that they still face a shortage after having given fair consideration to Singaporeans.
  50. The Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Manpower will provide more details at the COS.
  51. As the Marine Shipyard and Process sectors have only begun showing early signs of recovery, I will defer the earlier-announced increase in Foreign Worker Levy rates for these sectors for another year. (Refer to Annex C-3.)
  52. Partnering to Win

  53. I have spoken on how Budget 2019 supports the building of deep enterprise capabilities, and the building of deep worker capabilities. Let me now touch on the third key thrust to support economic transformation – building deeper partnerships within Singapore, and across the world.
  54. To succeed, companies need to both compete and cooperate – compete to differentiate themselves, and cooperate to solve common challenges.
  55. Our TACs can play an important role in developing industry-wide capabilities. This includes supporting members in getting business advice, and improving access to local and international networks.
    1. TACs have done well in helping our companies build overseas partnerships. For example, the Singapore FinTech Association has forged many partnerships with foreign FinTech associations, and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has organised Singapore’s commercial participation at numerous overseas trade fairs including the 2018 China International Import Expo.
    2. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also developed the Trade Association Hub, which now houses 39 TACs, to raise the level of services for members. SBF is also working closely with our TACs.
    3. We will strengthen our support for TACs through the Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme. Enterprise Singapore will be developing five-year roadmaps with TACs that have demonstrated strong leadership and shown ambition to do more for the business community. This will enable them to take on a more strategic and longer-term approach in driving industry transformation. These TACs will be able to access funding and potentially take in public sector secondees through LEAD.
  56. We will also develop stronger partnerships around the world, at the Government-to-Government and Business-to-Business levels. Our TACs, such as the SBF, have developed international linkages for our businesses.
  57. Over the years, we have negotiated Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with partner economies, which enlarge our businesses’ access to new markets.
    1. Just last week, the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) received the European Parliament’s consent with a clear majority.
  58. To draw greater value from these trade networks, we will streamline and digitise our trade processes further to raise efficiency. This will enable easier access to overseas markets, and help our firms make better use of these FTAs.
    1. Last year, I launched the Networked Trade Platform (NTP), to streamline trade processes and provide a one-stop information management system for traders.
    2. We will also be working with partners to facilitate the secure exchange of electronic trade documents, to unlock further productivity gains.

    Global-Asia Node of Technology, Innovation and Enterprise

  59. Members will appreciate that the three key thrusts I have just announced – building deep capabilities in our enterprises, and in our people, and forging deep partnerships – build on the ITMs that I announced in Budget 2016. With the progress we have made, we are better prepared for major changes that are coming our way.
  60. One major change is the speed of advancements and convergence of new technologies – it is what some have dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. This will transform the way we invest, trade, and consume.
  61. Over the years, we have forged deep partnerships with the G3 economies of US, Europe and Japan, as well as China, India and ASEAN. With the centre of economic gravity shifting to Asia, and with the technological depth of our partnerships with the G3 economies, we should position Singapore as “Asia 101” for global MNCs looking to expand into Asia’s growing markets, and as “Global 101” for Asian companies ready to go global.
  62. For our next phase of growth, as we press on with industry transformation, we will continue to build Singapore’s position as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise. This will open up new opportunities for our firms and our people to ride on the wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  63. Our efforts to achieve this will build on the same three key thrusts as laid out for the broader economic transformation. First, investments in research and innovation by our universities, research institutes, and our firms; second, investments in our people; and third, building global partnerships.
  64. First, we will continue to invest in R&D to support the push to make innovation pervasive. We have set aside $19 billion as part of our five-year Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2020 plan. Our investments in R&D in our universities and research institutes are bearing fruit.
    1. NUS and NTU are ranked the best in Asia in areas such as materials science and chemistry, and among the top 50 globally for engineering and computer science. Many of our researchers are regarded by their peers as among the world’s best, especially in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and biomedical sciences.
    2. A*STAR has research institutes that are highly regarded. Together with our universities they are actively working to translate research findings into innovation, in partnerships with industries.
  65. But for R&D to make an impact, our companies must take the lead. Members of this house will be encouraged to know that some sectors are moving ahead – including two ‘old economy’ sectors.
  66. First, despite digital advancements, we still need brick-and-mortar buildings.
    1. The Construction sector, seen as low-tech and labour-intensive, is now using Integrated Digital Delivery8. This makes use of Building Information Modelling and other digital technologies, connecting different players working on the same construction projects. This has raised productivity and created new high-value jobs such as 3D modellers. Site productivity has improved by about 15% over the last eight years.
  67. Second, in the digital age, we still need food, not just bits and bytes. The agriculture and food production sectors are transforming.
    1. For example, AVA’s Marine Aquaculture Centre and Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory have developed the “St John’s Sea Bass”. This fish is less susceptible to disease, and can be bred in 30% less time. A start-up Allegro Aqua is looking to bring more St John’s Sea Bass to the world.
    2. Another example is Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory’s “Temasek Rice”, which produces four times as much rice per hectare as compared to regular breeds of rice.
    3. To tap on the demand for high-quality food, and to build on our progress, Enterprise Singapore’s investment arm, SEEDS Capital, has appointed seven partners to co-invest in Singapore-based agri-food start-ups, to catalyse more than $90 million of investments.
  68. Leading MNCs and our large local companies are also establishing their R&D centres in Singapore, in different areas of technology. We now have 14 corporate laboratories in our universities, doing cutting-edge work from cyber-physical systems to power electronics.
    1. Last year, we opened four corporate labs with major companies – Applied Materials, HP, Wilmar, and Surbana-Jurong – to work on advanced manufacturing, biochemicals and smart cities.
  69. I recently visited LUX Photonics Consortium, which brings together researchers in NUS, NTU, A*STAR, and the industry to translate cutting-edge photonics research into practical applications.
    1. There, I met Nanoveu, a Singapore start-up specialising in nanotechnology applications. One of its prototype products, a high-tech screen protector, promises to allow long-sighted users to see clear images on digital devices without their glasses. And to see 3D objects from 2D films, that is another project. I am sure this House will support the enabling of us to see issues, far or near, with greater clarity!
    2. I also met Technolite. Our Helix Bridge, and new buildings such as the Jewel at Changi Airport, are lit in scintillating ways by Technolite. The company is embarking on R&D, to take its products to a new level.
    3. So I wish Nanoveu and Technolite success, to light up our lives and to let us see better!
  70. To keep the momentum going, we will continue to invest in Centres of Innovation at our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and research institutes, and to support companies in innovation.
    1. Enterprise Singapore is collaborating with industry partners to establish a Centre of Innovation in Aquaculture at Temasek Polytechnic to promote aquaculture. This Centre will bring together aquaculture firms to improve our food resilience.
    2. Enterprise Singapore will also launch a Centre of Innovation in Energy at NTU, building on earlier investments at the Energy Research Institute at NTU (ERI@N). The centre will collaborate with the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore to drive industry-led innovation in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric mobility. (Refer to Annex C-1.)
    3. We will share more about these exciting new research initiatives at the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise Council meeting next month.
  71. The spirit of entrepreneurship is critical for all these endeavours – having a vision of the future, and taking practical actions, day-in, day-out, to explore a range of possibilities and solve a myriad of problems. It is the grit and determination of our entrepreneurs that make a difference.
    1. Mr Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technology, brought us the popular Sound Blaster cards in the 1990s.
      1. Creative Technology went through a difficult patch after its initial success with the Sound Blaster, but Mr Sim and his team pressed on. After 20 years of R&D costing US$100 million, the company recently launched the Super X-Fi, a technology that recreates the holographic sound experience – or 3D sound – with headphones, personalised. It has already won 14 awards at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in the US. Having tried it myself, and having heard the endorsement of audiophiles, including some in this chamber, I am happy that Mr Sim and his team are at the cusp of a major breakthrough. And I wish them every success.
      2. Mr Sim’s story illustrates the point that to succeed, we must learn, we must walk the ground, and we must persist.
  72. I have touched on our efforts in Research, Innovation, and Enterprise. Singapore as a Global-Asia node will bring new opportunities for our people, in new frontiers. The second thrust is to prepare and develop our people to make full use of this node. We are partnering firms to invest in our people, including young Singaporeans, to provide them with opportunities to gain working experience abroad.
    1. For students who are currently in IHLs, we will combine the current local and overseas internship programmes into a single Global Ready Talent Programme. It will have enhanced funding support for our students interning overseas with Singapore firms.
    2. The programme will also support high-growth Singapore firms to send Singaporeans with up to three years of working experience, for postings in key markets such as Southeast Asia, China, and India. (Refer to Annex C-2.)
    3. By giving young Singaporeans overseas exposure, they can develop new skills to better support our firms’ overseas expansion.
      1. For instance, Oceanus Group, a local seafood supplier, sent interns from Republic Polytechnic to its operations in China in a range of jobs. One of their former interns, Bernice Chan, is now a management trainee in Oceanus’ farm in Fotan, China.
  73. Our third thrust is to build global partnerships, so that our firms and people can forge new areas of collaboration with other innovation centres.
  74. In Budget 2017, we started the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA), one of the Committee on the Future Economy’s recommendations. We have now established nine nodes in global start-up hotspots, such as Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Jakarta, and San Francisco. These GIA nodes give our entrepreneurs and students opportunities to learn and build networks globally.
  75. We are also bringing the global innovation community to come together in Singapore, to explore and collaborate.
    1. Last year, we held the third edition of the Singapore FinTech Festival. This is now the world’s largest FinTech event9. As part of this Festival, the Global Investor Summit brought together investors on our Meet ASEAN’s Talents and Champions (MATCH) platform. These investors expressed an interest to invest up to US$12 billion in ASEAN enterprises in FinTech, info-communications technology, and MedTech over the next three years.
    2. Another technology event, the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) brought together more than 350 exhibitors, and 1,000 promising start-ups and financiers from 75 countries.
    3. To maximise impact, this year, SWITCH and the Singapore FinTech Festival will be held in the same week in mid-November. We can draw in even more entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, from around the world, to explore and collaborate in technology innovation in this Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    Our Continued Commitment to Economic Transformation

  76. These various programmes on economic transformation and jobs build upon our efforts and investments over the years.
  77. To summarise, our economic transformation is progressing well. But, we must persist with our industry transformation efforts. At the same time, the pace of technological innovation is rapid, and global economic weight is shifting towards Asia. We will position Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise.
  78. Economic transformation is critical. We expect to spend $4.6 billion over the next three years on the new and enhanced economic capability-building measures in Budget 2019, and to support Singaporean workers. $3.6 billion will go towards helping our workers to thrive amid industry and technological changes10. $1 billion will go towards helping firms build deep enterprise capabilities. But let me emphasise that supporting companies and supporting workers are mutually reinforcing – stronger companies provide better jobs and pay for workers, and highly skilled workers make companies stronger.
  79. I am confident that we can continue to make good progress. Our enterprises and TACs, workers and unions, and the Government must continue to work closely together. As long as we stay relevant and useful to the world, we can continue to create opportunities for our people and enterprises.
1 Source: Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Economic Survey of Singapore 2018.
2 Median gross monthly income of full-time employed Singapore citizens including employer CPF contribution. Source: Labour Market Advance Release 2018, Ministry of Manpower.
3 Source: Ministry of Trade and Industry, Department of Statistics.
4 Inclusive of spikes in venture capital investments arising from large deals.
5 The enhanced support for young companies will be reviewed by 31 March 2021.
6 Excludes expenditure on pre-employment training.
7 Training participation rate is defined as the proportion of residents aged 15 to 64 in the labour force who had engaged in some form of job-related structured training or education activities over the 12-month period ending June. Source of data: Supplementary Survey on Adult Training, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower.
8 Integrated Digital Delivery taps on Building Information Modelling (BIM) to allow architects, engineers, contractors, and facility managers to share information and collaborate. It raises productivity, and creates new, high value jobs such as 3D digital modellers, data analysts, and computational specialists.
9 In 2018, the festival had over 500 exhibitors, 250 speakers, and 45,000 delegates from over 127 countries.
10 This refers to the jobs and skills budget set aside for the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Education.