Singapore budget: Lack of 'goodies' to attract foreign investors

Singapore budget: Lack of 'goodies' to attract foreign investors
Singapore budget: Lack of 'goodies' to attract foreign investors

Ajay Sanganeria, tax partner at KPMG in Singapore, said in a note that the country's compliance to the BEPS initiative enhances its reputation as a legitimate place to do business.

"Singapore will definitely stand out as a low tax yet BEPS-compliant market to [multinational corporations] looking for jurisdictions in which to invest," he said.

Today, even as the country increases its focus on building local capabilities, it continues to work on attracting foreign companies with its Economic Development Board targeting to draw between S$8 billion ($5.6 billion) and S$10 billion ($7 billion) in investments this year.

On Monday, Heng unveiled an annual Budget statement that featured strategies to tackle a rapidly changing economic climate and advances in technology. Among measures announced by Heng include help for local companies and workers to gain capabilities, higher corporate tax rebate and a new carbon tax.

For the fiscal year starting in April 2017, Singapore's expenditure is expected to grow by S$3.7 billion ($2.6 billion) from a year ago to S$75.1 billion ($52.8 billion) with an overall surplus of S$1.9 billion ($1.3 billion), down from the previous year's S$5.2 billion ($3.7 billion).

While many observers lauded the budget as being expansionary and inclusive, some questioned the lack of assistance to smaller companies, who are grappling with rising business costs.

Kurt Wee, president of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" that rising costs are a concern flagged by the community over the last three to four years, but there have not been sufficient measures to address that.

"You've got labor cost that's quite a bit of pressure on businesses, you've got rental cost, compliance cost… In the near term, you're going to see levies going up, we don't see many cost measures that are going to help SMEs in this climate," he said.

CNBC

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