ITMs enjoy broad support from firms, but work needed to raise awareness: SBF chief

Business federation study finds 52% of about 1,000 companies say they do not know enough about ITMs

Singapore

THERE is broad support among companies for the government's road maps for transforming each sector, but more could be done to raise awareness of these plans, said Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief executive Ho Meng Kit.

While businesses welcome the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) programme, Mr Ho said companies - especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - still do not know enough about it.

He was clarifying earlier comments in The Business Times and The Straits Times, which quoted him as saying that ITMs are disconnected from the needs of companies.

"My intention was to share some feedback I had received from some companies. These represented the perception of these companies on the ITMs," said Mr Ho at an SBF press conference on Thursday.

ITMs were launched as part of a S$4.5 billion industry transformation package in Budget 2016. They are industry-specific roadmaps which aim to take an integrated approach where trade associations and chambers (TACs), companies, and the government work together to help each sector prepare for the future.

So far, 15 ITMs have been launched and the remaining eight will be rolled out by March this year, bringing the total to 23 ITMs that will cover 80 per cent of the economy.

A survey released on Thursday by the SBF showed that 52 per cent of the roughly 1,000 companies polled said they still do not know enough about the ITMs.

This shows more needs to be done to raise awareness, Mr Ho said.

"SBF has been closely partnering our government agencies and member companies in the implementation of the ITMs," he said.

"This is because we fully recognise the importance of the ITMs in helping our businesses grow and transform, especially our SMEs."

The SBF survey also found that as many as a quarter of those polled have yet to take significant steps towards business transformation. These "slow starters" were also more likely to suffer lacklustre growth.

At the other end of the spectrum, a third of respondents consider themselves to be at the forefront of innovation in their respective industries and have invested significant resources in preparing for the future.

The ITMs have to reach out and appeal to companies at all stages of their transformation journey, especially those which are still lagging behind, Mr Ho said, adding that this can be done through strong collaboration between the public and private sectors.

READ MORE: Editorial: Securing buy-in from SMEs about industry transformation