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New procurement guide to help SMEs bid for government contracts, gather feedback

14 Oct 2017

It gives suggestions on the procedure before bidding for tenders, such as attending fairs and clinics

Stephanie Luo

A NEW government procurement guide that outlines steps for businesses to take when tendering for government contracts has been launched to help local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular.


The guide, Government Procurement: A Best Practices Guide, was launched on Friday at the SME Convention 2017 organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). It was developed with inputs from the business community, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Spring Singapore.


The guide provides ways in which companies can maximise competitive advantage and gives suggestions on the procedure before bidding for tenders, such as attending relevant government procurement fairs and clinics to be familiar with procurement processes and opportunities. It also encourages firms to request for feedback from the procuring agency if the bid was unsuccessful.


At the convention, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann reassured SMEs that services provided to them will remain amid the merger of Spring Singapore and IE Singapore into a single business-focused agency called Enterprise Singapore.


Speaking at a panel discussion, Ms Sim, who is also Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, said: "We are very cognisant of the wishes and the expectations that the business community has communicated to us.


"We want to ensure that the formation takes place smoothly. In the process of doing this merger, we will ensure that services to our SMEs remain."


Ms Sim is also the adviser to the SBF-led SME Committee (SMEC), which provides a platform for SMEs to discuss and analyse business issues with policymakers.


SMEs make up 99 per cent of all businesses in Singapore's economy, employing nearly seven out of 10 workers and contributing close to half of the nation's gross domestic product.


During the panel discussion, Melvin Tan, vice-chairman of SMEC, highlighted that the high cost of investing in research and development (R&D) among SMEs here is limiting the growth of businesses.


"They would rather build on what's available to develop and try and sell something simpler. R&D takes a lot more guts.


"I hope that with the merger (of IE and Spring), that kind of seamless move from seeding the idea, providing a demand in Singapore ... would then create global companies," he said.


Over the years, the government has broadened its internationalisation support to help more SMEs build their capabilities and find new opportunities abroad.


For example, the "Plug & Play Network" by IE Singapore is a collaboration with eight regional partners to provide SMEs with dedicated support in business advisory services, business matching and market set-up via co-working spaces. SMEs now have easier access to over 45 major cities across six markets, including Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai and Shanghai.


To help address internationalisation issues, IE Singapore also presented its newly launched "Tariff Finder" platform at the convention. The platform helps SMEs to obtain information on tariff and non-tariff measures on Singapore's network of 23 free trade agreements to facilitate the export of goods.