4 Key Areas SMEs should know about Budget 2018
As the people on the ground continues to talk about the impending higher GST (that will be on the horizons in 3 to 7 years time), we bring focus to the things that we think will matter more to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that you should be aware of. Here are 4 key areas that you should be aware of from Budget 2018:
a. Extension of Wage Credit Scheme (WCS)
The WCS co-funds wage increases for Singaporean employees, up to a gross monthly wage of $4,000. The WCS will be further extended by 3 more years, where there will be 20% co-funding for 2018, 15% for 2019 and 10% for 2020.
b. Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Rebate
For Year of Assessment (YA) 2018, the CIT rebate will be raised to 40% of tax payable, capped at $15,000. For YA 2019, the rebate will be at 20% of tax payable, capped at $10,000.
c. Start-up Tax Exemption (SUTE)
SUTE is aimed at helping to lower costs for smaller firms and start-ups, but do not directly help firms develop capabilities. So starting in Year of Assessment 2020, instead of being exempted 100% of the first $100,000 of chargeable income from corporate tax, the exemption will be reduced to 75%.
d. Foreign Worker Levy
For those in the Marine Shipyard and Process sectors which is still currently facing weakness, you will be glad to know that the earlier-announced increases in Foreign Worker Levy rates will be deferred by another year.
View the updated table of Foreign Worker Levy Schedule.i
a. Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)
To support businesses to buy and use new solutions, the existing grants will be streamlined to support the adoption of pre-scoped, off-the-shelf technologies into a single grant termed the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG). PSG will provide funding for up to 70% of qualifying costs for SMEs seeking to adopt off-the-shelf technologies with a defined scope. The new grant will come into effect from April 1 this year.
b. Enterprise Development Grant
For larger companies which need help to innovate and internationalise, the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) will combine the existing Global Company Partnership grant by IE Singapore and Capability Development Grant by SPRING, providing up to 70% of co-funding for companies to build a range of capabilities. This will help companies to compete better both locally and abroad. EDG will be administered by Enterprise Singapore (ESG).
c. PACT scheme
The PACT scheme aims to provide more “holistic support” to encourage collaboration between enterprises of all sizes. PACT will provide funding support of up to 70% of qualifying costs in areas such as capability upgrading, business development and internationalisation. PACT will be administered by Economic Development Board (EDB) and ESG.
a. Open Innovation Platform
This is a virtual crowd-sourcing platform, where companies can list specific challenges that can be addressed by digital solutions. For providers of digital solutions, this provides an opportunity to match their firms to co-develop solutions to solve real-world problems that companies are facing.
b. ASEAN Leadership Programme
Under the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), 2018 will see the birth of a new ASEAN Leadership Programme to help our business leaders build networks and plan business expansion in Southeast Asian markets. More details are expected to be provided in April, ahead of its expected launch in the second half of the year.
c. Infrastructure Office
To help firms tap into infrastructure opportunities in Asia, such as those created by China’s One Belt One Road initiative, the government will setup an Infrastructure Office whereby the Office will bring together local and international firms from across the value chain, such as developers, investors, legal, accounting and financial service providers – to develop, finance and execute infrastructure projects.
a. Tax Deduction for IP registration fees
Tax deduction for IP registration fees will go up from 100% to 200%, to help firms protect their tangible assets. This is capped at $100,000 of IP registration fees per year.
b. Tax Deduction on qualifying expenses on R&D
For qualifying expenses on R&D done in Singapore, the tax deduction is raised from 150% to 250%.
c. NRF-Temasek IP Commercialisation Vehicle
At least $100 million will be going into this joint venture, whereby it brings together Temasek’s global investment networks with NRF’s connections from the Singapore R&D community, to grow companies that draw on IP from publicly-funded research in Singapore.
d. Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP)
The ATP will be launched to build up Singapore’s R&D capabilities to address challenges arising from increased air traffic and constraints in manpower, land and airspace. 3 key thrusts will be focused on:
i. Seamless ground operations
ii. Effective and efficient security
iii. Premium travel experience
iv. First-in-class Air traffic management
The ATP will be administered by Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
e. National Robotics Programme (NRP)
The NRP was launched in Budget 2016 to address labour constraints in sectors such as healthcare and cleaning. This year, the NRP will be expanded to cover the built environment and construction sectors, to transform work processes in areas such as Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) and create better job opportunities. The NRP for the built environment and construction sectors will be administered by Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
With innovation and collaboration at the heart of this year’s budget, the government is positioning SMEs to be ready for the future amid a changing global economic landscape, which is critical for our nation’s development in the next decade.