How Budget 2021 Can Support Your Technology Needs

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses today. This is the worst recession Singapore experiences since it gained its independence in 1965. In his Budget 2021 speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mr. Heng Swee Keat announced the COVID-19 Resilience Package that sets out to safeguard public health and support businesses, especially sectors that are badly hit.­­­

However, beyond the immediate concerns to survive and recover from the pandemic, COVID-19 has also accentuated the need for Singapore and businesses to remain competitive and sustainable in the long term. Although businesses have realised the need to digitally transform to stay relevant in a post COVID-19 economy, the rate of analytics and technology adoption amongst small- and medium-sized enterprises (“SME”s) is relatively slow, according to a study jointly conducted by RSM Singapore, Singapore Institute of Technology (“SIT”), and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (“ISCA”). Some commonly cited reasons include the lack of resources and expertise.

Here are some of the measures in Budget 2021 that can sustain your organisation and support your technology needs.

Human Capital

The impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented and the Government introduced the Job Support Scheme in March 2020 to help companies retain jobs. During the Budget 2021 speech, it was announced that the Scheme will be extended to September 2021, but its reach will be narrowed down, focusing on sectors that are badly hit.  

Beyond the short-term needs to retain jobs and sustain livelihood, the Budget 2021 also supports longer term aspirations for Singapore and businesses to remain relevant and competitive:  

  • Increase opportunities for workers: For businesses looking to expand their workforce, the Jobs Growth Incentive allows companies to receive wage support for up to 18 months when they hire eligible workers. Additionally, companies may also leverage SGUnited Traineeships and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programmes to tap on fresh graduates and mid-careerists respectively. The government will co-fund part of the training allowances. 
  • Develop a local talent pool: As job nature changes, the skillsets required also evolve, hence there is a need to constantly reskill the workforce. For mid-career job seekers, the SGUnited Skills programme allows them to attend subsidised, full-time training programmes and at the same time, receive a monthly training allowance while doing so. The Budget 2021 also supports the Innovation & Enterprise Fellowship Programme that “aims to grow the pool of deep-tech talent in Singapore that can support the commercialisation of deep-tech research and bring nascent technologies to market,” such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and healthcare technology, over the next five years.

Technology and Digitalisation

It is now widely accepted that companies need to transform to keep up with times. Although technology and digitalisation are key enablers, many SMEs lack in-house expertise to transform their business processes. Nevertheless, a study by RSM Singapore and collaborators found that majority of the local SMEs are receptive to outsource their organisation’s IT needs.

Budget 2021 will support organisations in developing capabilities through the following:

  • Outsource Expertise: The CTO-as-a-Service and the Digital Leaders Programme aim to enhance accessibility to professional services and expertise. This allows businesses to gain exposure to best practices in the industry. Additionally, for companies that are looking to redesign their work processes and tap into automation and technologies to increase efficiency, Budget 2021 has enhanced the Productivity Solutions Grant (Job Redesign) and Enterprise Development Grant which subsidise consultancy costs and project costs respectively.
  • Adopt Technology: Through the Emerging Technology Programme, our Government co-funds adoption of digital solutions and frontier technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, and trust technologies to encourage mature enterprises to evolve. Furthermore, companies that seek to adopt IT solutions and equipment can take advantage of the Enhanced Productivity Solutions Grant to enhance their business processes.
  • Develop a Collaborative Ecosystem: The Government has enhanced the Open Innovation Platform (“OIP”) to match companies that are in need of technology solutions with the right solution provider, in addition to co-funding prototyping and development of solutions. All enterprises, including business consultants, are welcome to participate in the OIP. It is likely to encourage a vibrant and innovative ecosystem amongst local companies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for organisations to adapt, survive, and transform. The Government, through this year’s Budget, implemented several initiatives to help organisations thrive in a post-COVID economy. Technology and digitalisation are important drivers of business strategies. Companies should make use of these opportunities afforded by the pandemic to better transform themselves.

This article is contributed by Matthew Ang of our Technology, Media & Telecommunications practice.

To find out how our Technology, Media & Telecommunications team can assist you in your analytics and technology needs, such as advisory, digitalisation, robotic process automation, business intelligence, enterprise business solutions, cybersecurity and IT audit, please consult our specialists.

Adrian Tan
Partner & Industry Lead, Technology, Media & Telecommunications
+65 6594 7876
[email protected]