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Date [ 2014-03-12, 05:35 ]

Members of the ISCA came together to discuss the implications of this year’s budget.

(Singapore=Koreanpress) Benjamin Kim = Recently the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) had the ISCA Budget 2014 Update and its Tax Implications Seminar.TeoSer Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and ISCA Advisor was the chief guest.

The 650 participants were given the necessary knowledge to relate to Budget 2014 policies. This year’s budget will take two key directions: pushing for quality growth and building a fair and equitable society.

In his welcome speech, ISCA President Dr Ernest Ka touched on the Pioneer Generation Package. He mentioned a fund of $S8 billion has been allocated for life-long health-care benefits for 450,000 pioneers.

This will also cover the first batch of the national servicemen, and reflects the city-state’s appreciation of the servicemen.  They will receive this Package regardless of their income;

The Budget also addressed health-care cost concerns, as well as financial assistance for pre-school and tertiary education, especially for those from low and middle-income families. These measures are expected to strengthen social support.

With regard to promoting quality growth, the Budget rolled out incentives to foster growth based on innovation and deeper capabilities and create higher-value industries and quality jobs and sustain rising incomes for Singaporeans.

Interestingly, a number of the issues covered in the Singapore Budget 2014, was raised in the ISCA Pre-Budget Roundtable held in January 2014. The points brought up included the concern over businesses’ focus on costs rather than innovation and transforming capabilities; the need to further incentives for R&D; greater financing for SMEs, including crowd funding; and encouraging businesses to seize growth opportunities overseas.

Another important feedback tool was the Pre-Budget Survey 2014 which drew inmore than 400 responses from the accounting and business community. Besides providing important insights and feedback to the Government for Budget 2014, the findings will help the association in formulating and refining relevant initiatives, for the benefit of its members.

Singapore businesses face the challenges of restructuring and the push towards higher value-added products and services while staying competitive at the same time.

Compared to last year, there was increased optimism among the respondents.However some of the bugbears were rising business and staff costs,plus rental. Another was improving productivity and which has now become a greater concern this year (50%), compared to last year.

Companies too are having hiring difficulties. With the tightening of foreign labour, manpower related measures are expected to increase costs, such as raised levies or qualifying salaries, compared to measures, such as reduction in dependency ratio, that are non-cost in nature. ISCA cites greater negative impacts hitting smaller firms, in particular, those with turnover of less than $100 million, and sectors that are more labour intensive, such as Construction and Food Services.

Based on the survey findings, ISCA had suggested these items that could be considered in Budget 2014:

1.Fine-tune measures on foreign labour and business costs, in particular, to review need for manpower measures that increase costs as opposed to measures that are non-cost in nature.

2.Encourage companies to focus on activities that promote innovation and capability transformation which have the potential to increase value add and competitiveness significantly

3. Fine-tune schemes for innovation and capability transformation to facilitate take-up.

4. Increase support and enhance measures to help companies venture overseas.
5. Provide more healthcare and tax savings to help households cope with increasing costs

As2014 rolls forward, the ISCA will now work closely alongside businesses and stakeholders, including its members, to help in restructuring, raise productivity and stay competitive in the year ahead.


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