30 September 2015
Businesses welcome new Cabinet line-up

SINGAPORE: Businessmen and financial experts have welcomed the new Cabinet line-up announced on Monday (Sep 28), and they said the changes show the Government is putting emphasis on economic development, with experienced hands running the show.

For instance, incoming Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has held key positions at the central bank and the Trade and Industry Ministry. Mr Heng was formerly the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and had also served as the permanent secretary - the most senior civil servant of a ministry - in the Trade and Industry Ministry.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.

"They are definitely placing clear emphasis on the economy but I think it also reflects the increasing complexity of economic planning, in that the economic planner must balance growth needs alongside changing social needs as well as our natural constraints to growth,” said Mr Leong Wai Ho, senior regional economist at Barclays.

Over at the Trade and Industry Ministry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang and Mr S Iswaran will be appointed as ministers. In unveiling the changes, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the ministry's work scope has expanded considerably.

It used to focus on attracting multinational corporations to Singapore, but now it is also helping small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and encouraging entrepreneurship and research. Mr Iswaran will oversee the industry sector and focus on economic restructuring.

"It is a good thing that we are putting more emphasis now on this area because if you look at it, productivity and cost are becoming tougher for SMEs, and it does not look like it is going to ease off in the next few quarters,” said Association of Small and Medium Enterprises’ vice president Ang Yuit.

Mr Ang said one area where the Government can help SMEs is by streamlining the process for grants and claims. Right now, many claims involve dealing with two or more Government agencies.

Also weighing in on the changes, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce hopes there will be more engagement and interaction with the business community, while the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce said it would like to see a greater focus on innovation.

- CNA/xq

Link: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/singapore/businesses-welcome-new/2158894.html