What to watch out for in the Singapore Budget 2020

The Singapore Budget 2020 is due to be announced today. Aside from some measures to help companies affected by the ongoing coronavirus situation, there will be a number of initiatives that could affect local companies.

Below are five areas that we could see addressed in this year’s Singapore Budget:

  • Digitisation

Like last year, the government may continue to introduce and implement measures that will encourage and support Singapore firms’ efforts to go digital. This means providing grants and tax breaks for those investing in new technology as well as support for companies to upskill their employees. Furthermore, a key goal will be to improve cyber defences and so, we can expect to see some measures that would help bolster capabilities in this area.

  • Employee training

Increased digitisation is also leading to growth in automation technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which in turn will have a number of disruptive effects on the workplace. We may see policies that will aim to improve the ability of workers to adapt to the age of automation and be able to work alongside automation robots. Additionally, to power the new digital economy, companies will require talent and so equipping younger students as well as current employees, could start to become a priority

  • Overseas expansion

There already exists a number of support grants for SME’s wishing to expand overseas including the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant. This year’s budget could see more incentives to help local companies grow their presence in international markets.

  • Sustainability

There has been growing awareness of sustainability in Singapore and we may start to see this reflected in the 2020 budget. Look out for tax breaks or incentives that encourages firms to invest in sustainable research and development solutions. We may also see some support for smaller firms to become more carbon friendly

  • Aging population

This is not a new phenomenon and the government has been taking steps to address Singapore’s aging population for a while now. We could see measures designed to encourage employers to hire or retain older employees, perhaps with salary support or tax breaks. We could also see some support for companies that need to upgrade their office or workplace to be more ‘elder friendly’. Lastly, we could also see some efforts to upskill or retrain older workers

These are just five areas in what will no doubt be a lengthy budget addressing many issues that Singapore currently faces. While the US-China Trade War seems to be ebbing, many firms are still reeling from its impact and this has yet to be addressed. Apart from the forthcoming goods and services tax (GST) increase, we are unlikely to see any tax increases and it is likely to be an expansionary budget given the continued global uncertainty and downgrading of Singapore’s growth prospects for 2020.