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More funds to help trade associations and chambers drive enterprise

More government support is on the way to encourage trade associations and chambers (TACs) to work together on major projects and help manufacturers to lift productivity.

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs, told a conference yesterday that funding for TACs has been enhanced.

For instance, "high impact, multi-TAC projects" under what is called the Local Enterprise and Association Development (Lead) programme can now be supported for up to 90 per cent of the costs, up from the usual 70 per cent granted.

The Government has set aside $100 million to help TACs drive enterprise and industry development.

The conference was part of the Manufacturing Solutions Expo organised by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and Sphere Exhibits, held at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A memorandum of understanding signed at the event formed The Manufacturing Alliance, comprising SMF, Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation, Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Federation, and Singapore Industrial Automation Association.

SMF president Douglas Foo said it is "a collaboration to jointly develop and roll out initiatives... to transform the manufacturing industry towards (a) higher level of digitalisation and productivity".

Mrs Teo added: "Hopefully, this will help to deepen the capabilities of our manufacturing sector."

She also said TACs can help firms such as An Sing Trading - a manufacturer and distributor of motor vehicle spare parts - as they "not only understand businesses, but are also able to reach out to a wider pool of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)".

Mrs Teo noted that An Sing Trading was an example of firms changing their mindsets and embracing transformation.

It implemented an online business-to-business solution to manage excess inventory in an automated manner, and raised productivity by 20 per cent.

"Its workers are now freed up to do higher-value-added tasks like product servicing and distribution, to help grow its topline," she said.

Mrs Teo said besides the Lead programme, there is also funding support under the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) scheme, a joint effort by the Ministry of Manpower, Workforce Singapore, Spring and other government agencies.

"As part of the LED scheme, SMEs can access over 40 ready-to-go solutions designed for a wide range of industries and business functions via the government website Tech Depot, an online platform launched in April this year," she noted.

Since the LED scheme was introduced in October 2015, it has helped more than 5,000 companies like An Sing Trading "make progress in their productivity drive", said Mrs Teo.

"The manufacturing sector remains a key growth engine for Singapore for the foreseeable future."

Hiwin managing director Taddy Chen (left) speaking to Mrs Josephine Teo and SMF president Douglas Foo at the Manufacturing Solutions Expo yesterday.