Small businesses in Singapore feel that wage assistance is the most important government measure to help them tide over the COVID-19 crisis, according to the findings of an ASEAN-wide survey by UOB, Accenture, and Dun & Bradstreet. 48 percent of Singapore-based respondents listed wage assistance among the top three relief measures they wanted, significantly higher than the 36 percent average across the region. This may not be a surprising result, since wages in the city-state are among the highest across the Asia Pacific.
Perhaps because of the Singapore government's heavy focus on preserving jobs through wage subsidies, the survey also found that 72 percent of SMEs in the city-state are satisfied with government support measures, the highest in ASEAN. Vietnam ranked second, with 68 percent of respondents there expressing satisfaction with government assistance.
Business transformation is also high on the list for Singapore SMEs, with 44 percent saying government support for transformation initiatives is among the top three types of assistance that would help them. They hope to see the creation of more national digital infrastructure that will support their individual efforts, such as national business databases for electronic know-your-customer processes and nation-wide networks for electronic invoicing processes. They also want funding support for the adoption of digital technologies and more upskilling programmes to bring their employees, especially older workers, up to speed.
Lawrence Loh, Head of Group Business Banking, UOB, said that as small businesses tap cash flow-focused relief measures to ease their immediate challenges, other forms of government assistance could be used to help them emerge stronger post-COVID-19. “In supporting our small business clients, we found that many of them are not only concerned with immediate challenges but also with exploring enterprising ways to protect the long term viability of their business," he observed.