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Minister Gan Kim Yong initiated regular meetings with TAC (Trade Association and Chamber) Chairmen to obtain a better understanding of ground issues and to update TACs on the strategic direction of policies in light of COVID19. In his meeting with Dr T Chandroo on 30 September 2021, he noted that the increase in new cases had stifled the re-opening of the economy. Despite the new spectral peak highs being the cause for concern, about 82% of the population is fully vaccinated. He explained the success of Germany and Brunei’s experimental Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTLs) will provide the basis for progressively introducing other VTLs. As Singapore’s economy is highly interdependent, it is impossible for it to close its borders. Mr. Chandroo touched on many topics during his remarks. In his recent meeting with the Malaysian High Commissioner, H.E. Dato’ Dr Azfar Mohamad Mustafar, he discussed the need for a stronger travel corridor arrangement. The Malaysian business chambers will be working closely with SICCI on supply chain reinvention since many of SICCI’s companies source primary products and labor from Malaysia. Additionally, he highlighted the difficulties facing small businesses in Little India, as shared by LISHA, SICCI’s strategic business partner. Employers of foreign workers will soon be required to pay their local staff a minimum salary of $1,400 per month. Little India’s smaller retailers, especially those with a smaller business, would be stifled by this due to the nature/size of their operations. Specifically, he asked if MTI could assist in encouraging Singaporean ITE students who are unemployed to pursue training in the ancestral trades (artisan, flower making, design showrooms), for which there is a critical shortage of local labour.
The training could be conducted by SICCI. On the issue of foreign talent, he highlighted that Singapore students are disadvantaged compared to international talent as the latter has significant exposures to larger and more sophisticated markets. He encouraged overseas stints and incorporate internships as part of the education curriculum. Dr Chandroo also spoke about new and foreign companies that are registered in Singapore and the need to acculturate them to the Singapore way of doing business. He requested if SICCI could work with ACRA to be notified of new registrations, particularly from India. In order to embrace them in Singapore’s ethos and environment, SICCI would assist in organizing forums and programs. He hopes that the SMEC@Litte India will be extended beyond December so that SICCI, like SCCCI and SMCCI, will have an anchor business community to serve. Dr Chandroo has expressed the need to orient the next generation of TAC leaders towards serving the community at large rather than focusing solely on becoming successful entrepreneurs. Dr Chandroo was assured that Minister Gan was considering these suggestions and that he would pass them on to colleagues in MTI and ESG. In his opinion, the direct line of communication will foster greater work relationships and enable issues that can be addressed together to be resolved. In attendance were CEO, SICCI, Mr Johnson Paul, Mr Pee Beng Kong, Senior Director, MTI, Ms Chen Liu, Deputy Director, Enterprise Development, Ms GUO Yiran, Deputy Director and Special Assistant to Minister for Trade and Industry.

credit:  SICCI Newsletter-October 2021

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