Companies To Benefit from Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs)
Parliamentary Question by Mr Liang Eng Hwa:
To ask the Minister for Finance (a) how many companies have been helped by the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) since the launch of the ITMs; (b) what are the delivered outcomes so far; and (c) how can the ITMs be scaled up to help more companies.
Parliamentary Response by Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat:
The development of Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) is one of the recommendations from the Committee on the Future Economy. The ITMs put in place a framework for partnership, bringing together industry stakeholders, including companies, trade associations and chambers (TACs), workers, unions, economic agencies and education institutions, to develop and implement a transformation plan for each of the 23 industries. The ITMs seek to sharpen the competitiveness of companies and industries here, and to enable our workers to deepen skills and increase productivity. In this way, companies and workers can continue to progress and enjoy the fruits of their efforts.
In developing the ITMs, the Government plays an enabling role, bringing together all stakeholders to develop and implement the plans. The leaders of companies and industries play the critical role of developing the strategies for their companies and industries, and of seeking partnerships, within Singapore and with global partners, to develop deep capabilities. To transform successfully, companies need industry-specific and holistic solutions that span different areas from technology adoption to manpower training. ITMs allow us to work with companies in a coherent way. For example, the Job Redesign Initiative under the Environmental Services ITM helps cleaning and waste management companies adopt automation and digital solutions to improve productivity, and to redesign jobs so that workers can benefit from these changes. The various initiatives reinforce one other – for instance, redesigning jobs and processes, as companies adopt new technologies.
As at the end of FY 2017, the Government has committed $1.7 billion to support companies. These funds have been deployed by agencies such as Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) to support about 30,000 companies in FY2016 and FY2017.
Industry transformation has to be pervasive and sustained. We cannot expect immediate results. But so far, we are glad that companies appreciate the need to change, and many are already taking action to do so. At the economy-wide level, we are seeing good productivity growth – in 2017, we achieved productivity growth of 4.5%. While we cannot attribute all of these to the industry transformation efforts, it is a step in the right direction. More detailed analyses are being done to assess the effectiveness of various initiatives.
Clearly, as Mr Liang Eng Hwa alludes to, we need to scale up to ensure that even more companies can undertake the transformation effort. There are several initiatives that we are working on. One is to get industry stakeholders to work together to take charge of the transformation. While companies compete to differentiate themselves, they can also cooperate to solve common challenges, and share resources and facilities to achieve scale. Food manufacturers, for instance, can tap on the shared facilities available at the JTC Food Hub @ Senoko, launched in July this year. The Food Hub provides shared spaces, such as an integrated cold room and warehouse, as well as advanced food processing equipment, such as microwave-assisted thermal sterilisers. By sharing resources, each food manufacturer can lower his operating costs. They can also embark on research and development work together, which each alone will find too costly.
Another way to bring more companies on board is for the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the various TACs to exercise leadership and bring companies together. For instance, the SBF is working closely with the various industry TACs to look into helping industries digitalise, through its Digitalisation Committee. The Committee has been working with Government agencies, such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), to implement initiatives in key areas such as e-invoicing, e-commerce, and e-payments.
Another example of how we are scaling up to help more companies is in the Logistics sector. Four TACs — the Container Depot and Logistics Association (Singapore) (CDAS), SAAA@Singapore, Singapore Logistics Association (SLA), and Singapore Transport Association (STA) — came together to form the Logistics Alliance as part of the Logistics ITM. The Alliance launched a Transport Integrated Platform (TRIP), which integrated several existing systems into a single digital platform to enable easier tracking of container trucks. This has helped logistics companies to increase productivity and reduce the idling time of their trucks. I look forward to the TACs’ continued good work in accelerating transformation.
To conclude, the Government will support companies in industry transformation, as industry partners and TACs continue to work together to realise synergies and forge win-win partnerships. With everyone playing his part, I am optimistic that our companies and workers will benefit through industry transformation, as they have in the past.