Budget’s manpower measures questioned by business

by Ben Abbott02 Mar 2015
Singapore’s Budget has failed in the eyes of many senior business leaders to make significant headway on the issue of easing manpower constraints.
 
A post-Budget poll conducted by KPMG of 100 key executives nominated manpower as the top issue the Budget could have better addressed.
 
The Straights Times reports that a total of 49% of chief executives, CFOs and tax directors of local and multinational firms thought the Budget could have done more to help businesses cope with manpower problems.
 
Out of the four options given to executives in the poll, manpower was the biggest gripe, followed by rental costs (24%), measures to support growth (15%) and simplicity in tax and regulations (12%).
 
In a panel discussion hosted by KPMG, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce CEO Victor Mills elaborated on the manpower problem.
 
"We've been saying on behalf of our members that we need a much more sectoral approach, and a recognition that, like it or not, there are a lot of jobs that Singaporeans don't want to do," he said.
 
According to The Straights Times, Mills said he hoped the Budget’s SkillsFuture measures would take a targeted approach by identifying the specific skills required by each sector, and supporting their development.
 
An SME association added that there had been no effort to reduce costs on business, though there had been some deferrals in business costs.
 
HR teams have been under pressure following Singapore’s recent regulatory push to encourage the hiring of local rather than foreign workers.
 
The panel discussion covered off a recurring problem – the difficulties some firms are facing in getting work permits approved or renewed.
 
However, the government has already indicated it will consult with business as part of its Budget measures to produce sectoral manpower plans.
 
The Budget also deferred foreign worker levy hikes due in July this year for one year to ease business pressure, with manufacturers given two years.
 
Businesses will also receive a temporary employment credit over the next three years to cover the raising of the CPF salary ceiling.
 

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