72% of small firms in Singapore satisfied with relief aid, higher than others in Asean

  • Singapore
  • Monday, 24 Aug 2020

SINGAPORE, Aug 24 (The Straits Times/ANN) - About three in four small companies in Singapore, or 72 per cent, are satisfied with the relief measures rolled out by the Government to help them cope with the economic fallout due to Covid-19, according to a survey.

The level of satisfaction of the companies polled here is higher than the regional average of 58 per cent, the survey found from 1,000 companies with an annual turnover of $20 million and below across five countries in South-east Asia.

Companies in two countries - Vietnam and Malaysia - also reported satisfaction levels higher than the regional average, at 68 per cent and 61 per cent respectively.

In Thailand, 47 per cent of the companies said they were satisfied with their government relief measures, while in Indonesia, the figure stood at 45 per cent.

The survey, conducted by United Overseas Bank (UOB), Accenture and Dun & Bradstreet, also found that the top three relief measures that respondents in Singapore wanted were wage assistance (48 per cent), business transformation support (44 per cent) and loan assistance (36 per cent).

This is contrasted with the top three relief measures that companies in the region wanted, such as deferment of income tax (50 per cent), loan assistance (46 per cent), and wage assistance (36 per cent).

A statement from UOB and Dun & Bradstreet said: "Given that one in two small businesses across Asean is facing cashflow challenges as a result of the pandemic, the majority of respondents indicated a preference for cashflow-related support from their governments."

Mr Lawrence Loh, group business banking head at UOB, said that as small businesses tap relief measures aimed at cashflow problems to ease their immediate challenges, other forms of government assistance could be used to help them emerge stronger post-Covid-19.

The bank has found that many of its customers who run small businesses "are not only concerned with immediate challenges but also with exploring enterprising ways to protect the long-term viability of their business", Mr Loh said.

The survey, which was conducted in the third quarter of last year before the coronavirus outbreak, as well as in May this year, showed that small businesses in Singapore want more investment in digital infrastructure to support innovation.

The companies surveyed were not necessarily UOB banking clients.

"Examples of digital infrastructure include national business databases for electronic know-your-customer processes and nationwide networks for electronic invoicing processes.

"The need for more digital infrastructure was also ranked as the top area of support needed among small businesses across Asean," the statement said.

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