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Pandemic helps build business resilience: Singaporean official
Douglas Foo 08:39, 2020/09/30
Businesses – the backbone of each country’s economy – have been advised to find proper ways to survive and thrive in the global health crisis.

Mr. Douglas Foo, president of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), shares with Hanoitimes the importance of business resilience amid the pandemic-driven uncertainty.

 Mr. Douglas Foo, president of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF)

Could you talk about the importance of adapting to the new normal in the manufacturing sector in Asia-Pacific?

The importance of adapting to the new normal does not just apply to the manufacturing sector, but to all sectors in the world. Through this pandemic, it has taught us the need to build business resilience in order to operate better and smarter, not just in a new normal, but in a post-Covid world.

How do companies in Asia adapt their business transformation to the new normal? How’s the role of companies in Singapore in setting an example for others in Southeast Asia?

To build business resilience, companies must look into two things:

1. Digitalization: This pandemic has pushed many companies to adopt digital tools to cope with a reduced workforce in the factory space and with most workforce working from home. This is in order to ensure safe distancing in the workplace to control the spread of the virus. Digitalization is not just necessary, it is inevitable. As more and more companies are going into the digital realm, companies that do not adopt digital tools may be left out cold.

2. Diversification of supply chains: The various borders closure to curb the spread of the pandemic has affected the supply chains of many companies. Therefore, companies must look into diversifying their supply chains to ensure the delivery of raw materials in the face of borders closure.

We are heartened to hear some success stories from our members who have managed to build their resilience during this pandemic. One such company is Osteopore International, a company that manufactures implantable devices that regrow bone tissue.

During the onset of the pandemic, Osteopore signed up for SkillFuture courses on digital workplace for their staff so that they could learn how to utilize data and information effectively for higher productivity. Through this, they were able to gain increased data visibility and analytics on the production floor, and the team was better equipped to respond and troubleshoot problems.

The team also took the opportunity to improve the efficiency and efficacy of their 3D printer and this resulted in significant improvement of quality and doubled their production output, even though they were only operating with half their workforce during circuit breaker.

What has the government of Singapore done to support its businesses in the new normal?

The Singapore Government has provided various grants and schemes to help businesses in the new normal. In May this year, the Government announced a SGD33 billion (US$24.1 million) “Fortitude” Budget to provide support for businesses and workers to adapt, transform and seize opportunities. Including the previous two Singapore Budgets announced, the Government has provided almost SGD100 billion (US$73 billion) to help all Singaporeans.

One such support is the Job Support Scheme (JSS). The JSS provides wage support to employers to help them retain their local employees (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) during this period of economic uncertainty.

To support companies during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced an enhanced version of the WLG to enable companies to receive expedited support. WLG incentivize companies through funding support to create a work-life harmony environment. It is achieved through the use of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) for all employees.

The Grant comprises both the FWA and Job Sharing incentives, which companies can tap on. Eligible companies can receive funding support up to SGD105,000 (US$76,642) per company for local employees over two years.

To help businesses in their transformation, the Government allocated SGD8.3 billion (US$6.06 billion) over three years to support the Government’s Transformation and Growth strategy.

Thank you very much!

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