POSTED 22 Jul 2019 - 11:27

What measures, if any, are needed as Singapore seeks to tackle the economic slowdown?

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Top Response

Mark Laudi, Managing Partner, RIABU LLP

Before looking to the government for more stimulus or support, there's one important thing all businesses must do to shore up their working capital: examine their own habits and processes.

Companies like to blame the economy, or even their customers, for thinning cash flows.

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Responses

Mark Laudi, Managing Partner, RIABU LLP
22 Jul 2019 - 11:32

Before looking to the government for more stimulus or support, there's one important thing all businesses must do to shore up their working capital: examine their own habits and processes.

Companies like to blame the economy, or even their customers, for thinning cash flows.

All too often, they are resigned to the old view that they simply have to chase customers harder to shore up collections at a time of weakening sales.

The mindset must change. They must take action for themselves to turn the situation around. There's only so much the government can do. Companies have to help themselves.

Terry Smagh, SVP, Asia Pacific & Japan, BlackLine
22 Jul 2019 - 11:32

Among other cost-cutting measures, companies and the government need to balance promoting innovation with the safeguarding of economic stability.

Substantial competitive opportunities await organisations and leaders who look at the big picture in the long term. Given the threat of a slowdown in employment growth as well as retrenchments in manufacturing and trade-related services, companies need to start on their digital disruption journey to enhance employee productivity or risk affecting their level of competitiveness in the local and global landscape. Given that Singapore's economic fundamentals have the strength and resilience to address emerging threats to financial stability, developments in automation and artificial intelligence should still be prioritised to enhance sustainable long-term economic growth.

Mario Singh, CEO, Fullerton Markets
22 Jul 2019 - 11:32

On average, a global recession happens once every eleven to twelve years. The writing is certainly on the wall for 2020 to record the next global recession after the global financial crisis of 2008. Data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry show that the Singapore economy shrank by 3.4 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis in Q2.

On closer look, sectors such as electronics, precision engineering and wholesale trade have slowed but the service sector with components like finance, insurance and information & communications technology (ICT) showed some bright sparks. There are three areas for Singapore to look at to weather the economic slowdown:

Firstly, implement programmes and initiatives for companies, businesses and workers to strengthen core competencies and build new capabilities. Secondly, continuously attract global companies to either invest or set up bases in Singapore. Finally, assistance from the government in the form of an expansionary budget in FY2020 to weather any incoming storms.

Gene Fitzgerald, CEO and Director, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART)
22 Jul 2019 - 11:31

Economic growth in developed countries is heavily dependent on innovation, the movement of useful ideas into the marketplace. Easy money policies have been used for decades externally to hide the global decrease in innovation efficiency and real growth, and the consequence of these damaging policies may be arriving. Sound money and new-world innovation ecosystems are required to create new economic growth in the real economy. SMART, MIT's research and innovation enterprise in Singapore, has been, and will continue to be, a sound and committed partner in establishing innovation impact in Singapore by addressing global market needs.

Vijay Kumar, CEO & Founder, ConnectUpz
22 Jul 2019 - 11:31

All businesses have external and internal spheres of influence, but the weightage of how each affects a business depends on the business structure and model. When external factors cause economic slowdown and affect your business, decision makers should look to explore internal opportunities that they may have previously overlooked. This could be things like expanding your network of suppliers and clients locally, by allocating more resources towards achieving that goal or by increasing the customer lifetime value (CLV) through improving your customer relationships with existing clients. By adding these additional streams of income, it would help ride the wave of economic uncertainty.

Dileep Nair, Independent Director, Thakral Corporation Limited
22 Jul 2019 - 11:31

Accurate prognostication of the economy is difficult. However, the latest indications are worrisome. Besides negative flash GDP estimates and severely slumping exports, key leading indicators such as the Purchasing Managers Index and the Consumer Confidence Index predict a further softening of the economy. Our open economy is highly affected by global trends. For that reason, in the past three economic downturns, the government intervened by taking strong and timely action to manage the economic crises. The primary concern is to save jobs of Singaporeans. No doubt foreign labour will be first to be shed but that will in turn affect consumption and the property market. Lowering business costs through income tax rebates, tax deductions for investment, and cheaper trade financing should be considered. Similarly, demand can be stimulated by accelerating infrastructure buildup and boosting public investment. Property financing rules should also be relaxed to promote the mortgage market. These measures should not be seen as kneejerk reactions but as a well crafted policy package. With such preemptive actions, we can move forward - hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

Lee Fook Chiew, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
22 Jul 2019 - 11:30

Amid the current uncertain economic climate which has dampened market demand in some sectors, there remains growth markets, such as within Asean, for Singapore companies to venture into. Government agencies can help to inspire business confidence by providing companies that are on the lookout for overseas business opportunities with more targeted information and guidance. For example, information on how to make use of ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA), or pertinent details regarding relevant business or tax laws and regulations in specific markets, will be very helpful. This would facilitate Singapore companies' journey as they step abroad in search of new markets.

Axel Berkling, Executive Vice President, KONE Asia Pacific
22 Jul 2019 - 11:30

There are still several growth opportunities for Singapore's businesses. The government should continue to facilitate sustainable growth and innovation to cushion the impact of the slowdown. It can be achieved by providing additional grants and tax rebates to companies that are adopting new technologies and creating innovative products. Professionals across industries need to make use of the SkillsFuture Credit programme, and the government can look at enhancing the benefits and creating more awareness. Finally, the government should continue investing in infrastructure projects to spur growth and support the construction and manufacturing industries.

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