The companies in the service sector and manufacturing sector can use better technology and better trained workers to raise their productivity. Where there is a will, there is a way.
As far as the IT services sector goes, they have already read the signs. Singapore has become too expensive for companies in that sector, and except for the nominal workforce that they need to maintain here to serve their clients onsite, they are moving all their back-end operations to cheaper locations-Malaysia, Philippines, and so on. I was recently told by an offshoring company source that the culture, costs in Singapore inhibit outsourced business process operations (BPO) on a massive scale even though the big foreign banks all have their own backroom operations in Changi. This is sensitive but true, my source said.
Also, Singapore SME bosses often complain of the rising foreign worker levies-from $50 a month in the past to some $300 now. Why should they complain when individuals (Singaporeans and permanent residents) pay maid levies which run from $100 to nearly $300 a month in Singapore?
Local SME bosses have had it easy so far. In good times, they grew their business. Now, it's time they gave something back to the society and made Singapore a stronger nation-less dependent on outsiders.
Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia.
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