The Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat of Singapore announced last Tuesday (26th May 2020) that more than S$500 million of the Fortitude Budget will be allotted to help the virtual transformation of businesses, including support for e-payments, adopting virtual solutions and deepening digital capabilities.
“Those who are willing to transform will not be left behind,” Mr Heng said, while speaking in Parliament last Tuesday.
For one, a new Digital Resilience Bonus will help businesses in digitalising their operations.
Noting that the take-up rate of e-payments among groups has “risen sharply”, with 50,000 more businesses adopting PayNow Corporate considering the fact that April, Mr Heng said this Budget will support those who've not begun the usage of virtual tools.
"We will help them to get on board with digital transformation, building on current momentum," Mr. Heng said.
This will be initially introduced for the food and beverage (F&B) and retail sectors, that are the foremost suffering from the safe-distancing necessities, Mr Heng aforesaid.
Stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, low retailers and industrial canteens can receive a bonus of S$300 per month over 5 months to encourage them to use e-payments and avoid having to handle money, he proclaimed.
“They should not be left behind as the whole economy transforms,” he added.
This bonus is going to be provided by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), National Environment Agency (NEA), JTC Corporation, Housing Board (HDB) and Enterprise Singapore, he noted.
HELPING BUSINESS TO GO DIGITAL
Businesses that are “ready to require their basic payment and invoicing functions digital” also will receive support within the Fortitude Budget.
“This will be coupled with support to keep their business running and even acquire new revenue lines. We will help businesses to implement safe-management measures and business continuity strategies to adapt to new post-COVID-19 norms,” aforesaid by Heng.
Noting that over 10000 food services and retail institutions have benefited from the Food Delivery and e-commerce Booster Packages that were proclaimed earlier this year, Mr. Heng proclaimed that a Digital Resilience Bonus is going to be introduced to “help businesses take their next step to digitalise”.
Eligible businesses will receive a payout of up to S$5,000 if they adopt PayNow company and e-invoicing, yet as a business method or e-commerce solutions, he added.
“We will start with the F&B and retail sectors, which are most affected by the safe distancing requirements as we reopen the economy.”
Mr Heng said, Businesses that already have basic digital capabilities “should deepen their digital transformation”.
“We will help them make use of advanced digital tools in an integrated way," he added.
The Digital Resilience Bonus can have a further tier of $5,000 for F&B and retail businesses that additionally incorporate advanced solutions, Mr Heng declared.
Another S$250 million has been put aside to assist businesses modify in partnership with digital platform answer suppliers and trade champions, aforesaid Mr Heng.
This includes developing offline-to-online business models to access new domestic revenue streams and international demand, mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on revenues, he added.
SCHOOLS SHOULD MAXIMIZE THE USE OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES
Apart from businesses, colleges and Institutes of upper Learning should “make full use” of digital technologies for learning, aforesaid adult male Heng.
The Student Learning house, a platform for self-reliant learning, has been instrumental in supporting academics for home-based learning throughout the “circuit breaker” amount, he added.
“The Government will harness the talents of our best software engineers, AI experts, learning scientists and educators to develop the relevant pedagogy and build new digital platforms for online teaching and learning, and integrate the latest advancements in AI and learning sciences,” Mr Heng said, adding that the National Research Foundation and also the Ministry of Education can give a lot of details at a later date.
A set of National Innovation Challenges also will be introduced to specialise in partnerships to develop industry-led solutions to the challenges “all businesses are grappling with”, beginning with however Singapore will open safely, Mr Heng proclaimed.
“The relevant agencies can articulate the essential issues that we tend to ask for to resolve, or the leap that we tend to hope to create.
“We hope that corporates, startups and others in the private and people sectors can step forward to form partnerships to provide solutions that can be scaled," noting that the Government will provide support for this, he said.
DIGITAL SOLUTIONS AS THE NEW NORM
Noting that digital solutions can become “more deeply embedded in our lives”, Mr Heng noted that teleworking, on-demand food and services and virtual events are currently the norm.
“COVID-19 has done what many CEOs and CTOs found hard to do. Accelerate digitalisation,” he added.
“This is a good thing. But I know that many businesses fear being left behind and shut out of the future. Businesses that are not digitally connected have been hit hard during the circuit breaker.”
Adding that COVID-19 “accelerated the decline in support for globalisation” and disrupted supply chains, Mr Heng stressed that there will be a “premium” on resilience.
“In this new world, we must continue to build on our reputation as a trusted, neutral, and reliable Global-Asia node.”
Singapore, aboard ten different countries, thoroughbred its commitment to upholding chain property and resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted.
“These links will support our businesses to go digital and global. By staying successful, they will create good jobs for our people.”