Firms should take initiative instead of relying on government: Inderjit Singh

INSTEAD of holding out for government policies to change in their favour, firms should do what they can on their own, said former member of parliament and co-president of the World Entrepreneurship Forum Inderjit Singh, at the Mitigating Business Uncertainties seminar on Thursday morning.

At the event organised by The Business Times and supported by Canon Singapore, Mr Singh laid out various ways that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could help themselves and one another: from using shared services for functions such as HR (human resources) and finance, to looking towards universities for technological solutions, and seeking alternative financing sources such as public venture capital.

Singapore's SMEs could even look at setting up a cooperative SME bank, he suggested.

"Don't wait for the government to change. It may take forever. Just do it yourself," he concluded.

Other speakers at the event also shared their views on how firms could cope in today's economy. Boh Wai Fong, head of the information technology and operations management division of Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School, suggested that firms adopt "entrepreneurial thinking". Instead of starting by defining a goal, firms could start by looking at what resources they have, then decide what they can do from there.

Tan Khee Giap, co-director of the Asia Competitiveness Institute of the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said firms should not fear the upcoming goods and services tax hike as it is still preferable to an increase in corporate income tax.

Firms should also focus not on cutting costs but on chasing growth, he added, noting that young businessmen he had met do not complain about costs, but are instead concerned with where they should be heading next.