Singapore rolls out $30 million incentive program

Singapore government launches a S$30 million incentive program aimed at increasing total e-business transactions in the country by $1 billion, 2 1/2 years from now.

SINGAPORE - The government plans to increase the total transaction value of electronic commerce by S$1 billion over the next 2 1/2 years by an injection of $30 million into a subsidy program.

That's the word that is coming out of an announcement made by IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) and PSB (Productivity and Standards Board) recently at the launch of Commerce Exchange's new e-business suite, BecomeCo.

Yeo Cheow Tong, Singapore's Minister for Communication and Information Technology, made the initial announcement, speaking to a room full of media and attendees.

Dubbed e-Business Industry Development Scheme or eBIDS, the program consists of two components.

Plan 1 supports a company's initiative to go on-line by subsidizing up to 50% of e-commerce related consultancy costs and subscription fee for up to 12 months. The incentive is capped at $20 000 per company.

"PSB has set itself the goal of having 1 in 3 SMEs on e-commerce by 2003," said Loh Kok Choy, divisional director of PSB's local enterprise division. "Incentive schemes, like eBIDS, will help our SMEs jump-start the process of embracing e-commerce."

The plan aims to jump-start the e-commerce program for 500 companies and is allotted $10 million of the total $30 million.

That is an increase of $1 million over the $9 million spent by the government over the last two years to bring 500 companies on-line in the soon to be defunct LECP (EC) (Local Enterprise Electronic Commerce Program).

eBIDS is an expansion and continuation of the LECP (EC) program and is expected to carry on from the program at the beginning of December.

Plan 2 will be administered and managed by IDA and is said to be a "performance based incentive program."

The plan targets companies with existing e-business capabilities who wish to expand further. These companies will include e-exchanges and hubs.

Incentive is capped at $500 000, and funding is determined by the actual on-line transaction value brought about by the proposed project.

"This component of eBIDS seeks to encourage e-business value creation," said Yeo. "It will provide incentive grants to e-business projects, aimed not only at increasing EC transactions, but also at increasing e-business value and bringing more companies on-line."

Industry reports estimate a phenomenal growth of the Asian e-business market to US$1 trillion by the year 2004.

It is hoped that the new incentive program will contribute toward making Singapore a dominant player in this arena.

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