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Singapore companies expect rough waters next year, survey finds

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by December 28, 2016 General

63 per cent of companies believe that the economic climate in Singapore has worsened this year, with 48 per cent of all businesses believing that 2017 will be even worse. — Reuters pic63 per cent of companies believe that the economic climate in Singapore has worsened this year, with 48 per cent of all businesses believing that 2017 will be even worse. — Reuters picSINGAPORE, Dec 28 ― Nearly half of the companies in an annual survey expect the economy to deteriorate even further next year, as they called on the government to come up with more measures to help tide them over the worsening conditions.

The survey, which was released today, also showed that nearly two-third of businesses believe that the economic climate has worsened over the last 12 months, with operational costs and manpower issues taking a hit on their profitability.

Despite their pessimism about the situation, the companies are not doing much themselves to transform their businesses and turn the situation around, the survey indicated.

According to the annual National Business Survey by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), 63 per cent of companies believe that the economic climate in Singapore has worsened this year, with 48 per cent of all businesses believing that 2017 will be even worse.

Operating costs and manpower issues remain the biggest challenges for businesses, at 68 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively. 

Meanwhile, the survey also showed that the steps taken by Budget this year are “not far reaching enough”, and the focus of the Budget next year should be on short-term measures such as easing manpower restrictions and lowering compliance burden.

Despite the continued efforts by the Government to help businesses, the survey also revealed that there has been little buy-in to the transformation message by companies, especially by SMEs.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of businesses, or 62 per cent, agree that they have to transform in order to adapt to slowing economic growth and technological change.

But SMEs appear to be much less enthusiastic about the need to do so: only 15 per cent of SMEs strongly agree with the need to transform, compared with 36 per cent for large companies.

“More can be done to mobilise companies to be ready for further economic transformation. Only 13 per cent of businesses described the government’s recent steps in Budget 2016 to assist companies with the slowing economic growth as sufficient. Similarly, only 18 per cent indicated that the assistance with adaptation to technological change and disruption is sufficient,” SBF noted.

The survey by SBF collected views of more than 1,100 members across all major industries between October and November this year. ― TODAY

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