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Thursday January 24th 2019

Helping private enterprises create jobs (APCA)

How can private enterprises create jobs here?

Helping private enterprises create jobs

Author: David Hew

I weighed in recently on the issue of creating jobs. My letter entitled “one suggestion to create jobs” published by the Straits Times Online Forum on 6th February 2009 can be found at

In my letter I spoke of how Offset programmes can help retain or create jobs. Two questions continue to perplex many; namely, what is an Offset programme and how can it help private enterprises retain or create jobs.

What is an Offset programme?

Imagine you are buying a new car. In addition to selling you the car, complete with the necessary certificate and freebies you want thrown in, you may be seeking some or all of the additional benefits listed below from the car salesman; namely, that he acts also as:

• a second-hand car trader, undertaking the sale of your old car;

• an insurance salesman, procuring for you the insurance for the new car; and/or

• a banker, finding you the loan to purchase the car.

The salesman knows that if he fails to bring you the additional benefits, another may and he would lose a sale. He would therefore have to proactively ensure that he is competitive to stay in business such that when say; you need a loan, you cannot possibly get one with better terms on your own than the one he can offer you.The car salesman is therefore differentiating his offer by providing you a range of benefits in order to induce you to make a purchase. You in turn will only make the purchase on condition that these benefits are extended to you. Like all buyers, you seek to maximise value from the use of your scarce resources.

This is in essence what an Offset programme is. In connection with a procurement to be made; a government makes known its many needs, additional to and without compromising the objectives of the originating procurement. Sellers are invited to propose a range of benefits meeting as many of the buyer’s needs and objectives as possible, thus differentiating their offerings from those of their competitors. If these benefits offered are accepted they would be made a condition of the purchase.

How can it help private enterprises retain or create jobs?

There is no denying that private enterprises have important roles in retaining and creating jobs. In order to do this, they would however need to grow and if growth is not possible; hopefully continue to be in business at least and not down size or worst still, fold up.

Governments can be the catalyst in helping businesses stay in business or grow.

We compete in a globalised environment. We need look no further than what other governments are doing and how they do it, helping their citizens and private enterprises through Offset. The importance some countries attached to Offset can be judged from the careful and detailed ex ante and/or ex post appraisal studies or reviews that they subject their programmes to.

How do governments do it? Like the person buying a new car, a government can convey, through a formal Offset programme, the considerations it will give if a seller differentiates his sale by offering a range of benefits directed at engendering development, growth and helping the private enterprises in the buyer’s country. Such assistance trickling down and translating ultimately to jobs being saved or created.

The secret lies not in just how, but how correctly and well a programme is conceived, developed and executed. Do these incorrectly, it may amount to protectionism. Or, do it badly, failures or losses may ensue. Do not apply them when the circumstances are appropriate and one may have failed to

• legitimately assist its citizens and local corporations face the challenges of globalisation and/or,

• more importantly, discharge one’s inviolable responsibility to extract value for money from purchases made with taxpayers’ money.

Such failings, if any, should raise questions when other countries – many of whom are technologically and industrially advanced countries – have and continue to demonstrate that enviable benefits including job saving and creation opportunities are attainable, if the right circumstances for the application of an Offset programme exist and when they are properly executed.

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13 Responses to “Helping private enterprises create jobs (APCA)”

  1. Aggrieved One says:

    What struck me reading this article is the fact that many governments are resorting to Offset to aid its citizens. The question we should be asking is what is the Singapore government doing about it? What are the consequences if it has not?

  2. Intransit Writer says:

    There are other articles in the same web site where this article is found which speaks of a study made by another country which study concluded that the cost for taking this route is only 3% and therefore the practice is growing and will never be eliminated.

  3. [...] – Support Site for the Unemployed: Helping private enterprises create jobs (APCA) [Thanks Aggrieved One] – Blowin’ In The Wind: IMF forecast Great Recession at Singapore [...]

  4. Helplessly Hopeful says:

    We all know that the Singapore economy is very dependent on external factors and we have very little or no control over this. The idea in the article seems to be one of those few actions available to and under the control of the Singapore government. The fact that many other countries are doing it must also mean that it is a tried and tested route. No doubt these countries have such a programme because taxpayers’ monies are involved.

  5. admin says:

    I know that the govt has given money for start up during the Sars period and lost alot of money as many start-ups folded up later.

    Moreover, the cash provided was alot and the people they helped was minimal. The people also failed to pick up their businesses.

  6. [...] Listen to what this woman said.. – Tan Kin Lian: Creating jobs – Support Site for the Unemployed: Helping private enterprises create jobs (APCA) [Thanks Aggrieved One] – Blowin’ In The Wind: IMF forecast Great Recession at Singapore [...]

  7. I See Clearly Now says:

    I know how you feel Admin, how painful when taxpayers’ monies just disappear. Wasted with no results to show.

    Why can’t our government study what other governments are doing so successfully and why do these government put so much effort into “Offset”?

    Maybe the problem is they do not possess the knowledge the author of the article appear to possess.

    I hope they realise that families are suffering, stressed and some already ruined as a result of their acts or omissions.

    Their failure to learn from others and their past mistakes are clear and present dangers to Singapore’s future. No, I should say our children’s future.

  8. Helplessly Hopeful says:

    I have read the article here and the postings with a great deal of interest. Please note that our Ministry of Finance has an online feedback facility in their website at and the feedback facility can be found at:

    I hope our Finance Ministry will investigate this “Offset” route to see how it can exploit this route like the way other governments are doing so to help their people.

  9. Small and Suffering says:

    The other entity apart from the MOF that should be reading this post is the Singapore Business Federation. After all, it is their duty to champion the interests of the private enterprises – especially SMEs – to enable them in turn to create jobs.

    They should benchmark what our government does against what other governments do or not do ans ask why and how these other governments help their private sectors and comepl them to account if they fall short.

    Doing the same things and duplicating what other government agencies already or should do is another wastage adding to the wastage that Admin is talking about.

  10. Intransit Writer says:

    I have been following this post with a lot of interests.

    If Singapore is not helping its citizens the way technologically and industrially advanced countries are through “Offset”, are our private enterprises then not up against major, if not impossible odds competng against their competitors who are so assisted by their governments?

    We should ask what are our government servants specifically doing like the suggestion in this article to help us instead of a shot gun approach like the Job Credit Scheme? Is there ignorance on their part? Should ignorance be an excuse when taxpayers’ monies which they have responsiblities over are involved? Are they not at least required to act with prudence to cause their actons or inactions to be independently checked against what other governments are doing? Especially when these can have an impact on our livelihood.

    Maybe it’s time again to check if our civil servants have been failing us. Yes, again. This time we don’t have to wait and pray that no harm will come our way. Some people’s livelihood is in the course of, if not already destroyed and more are being threatened. Isn’t this sufficient reason to act with urgency before it contributes eventually to Signapore’s downfall?

    Thanks for pointing out that it is the Singapore Business Federation who should take a lead in this. I remembered when I was still employed that my company had wondered why we are compelled to pay fees when no new or real beenfits accrue from a SBF membership

  11. Small and Suffering says:

    I was surprised to find in a discussion from #23 onwards at that some people thought that the article and the posts here allege that the Singapore government is not doing anything to help the SMEs. This is not correct.

    The Singapore government can come up all kinds of schemes to help Singaporeans. They should given the gravity of the recession, to retain and create jobs. Correction; they should whether times are good or bad when taxpayers’ monies are involved because our monies should be used to benefit us at all times.

    The issue is does each and everyone of the scheme bring the desired results from a cost:benefit perspective? Do they even know? Surely, such a conclusion can only be reached when there is an independent checks and balances.

    Take the Job Credit Scheme. The declared objective is to retain jobs. In taking a “shot-gun” approach there will be bound to be some hits and misses. Are hits and misses the way one should go spending billions of taxpayers’ monies?

    Why can’t our government look at what other governments are doing, like the programme described in this article. The fact that many governments of even advanced countries are taking this approach and the numbers are increasing suggests that such a programme is not only a tried and tested route but above all, it works. There is even a study which shows the costs to be only 3% of the benefit gained!

    It is important we check and benchmark our civil servants’ performance against others. Haven’t we learnt that some blame for the crisis our world is in has been attributed to the then much lauded Alan Greenspan for the work he did during his watch.

    Didn’t someone say that being small, we can least afford mistakes?

  12. I See Clearly Too says:

    I’m in the PMET group and have been unemployed for sometime already. I have found the posts here very helpful to enable me to see clearly too. The ball is entirely in our government’s hands. I’m not hopeful that we will see any response from our government. What you will see is a lot of the same old stuffs and talk about getting re-trained. It almost seem like our government is saying the fault lies with us. I hate to disappoint the many posts here asking that our government to benchmark their actions against others or for the Singapore Business Federation to do anything new or innovative.

    There is a complete lack of accountability and transparency on the part of our government such that we will never know if they are failing us. I have now regrettably to widen my search for a job in another country and if I find one, I will leave with or without my family if I have to. It will not be easy but at least I’ll hopefully find a decent job. If I can’t I’ll just have to move from one temp to another and live from day to day. I really don’t know how long can I continue like this. I wonder how many out are like me forced to consider uprooting themselves not out of choice but necessity.

    Our government speaks of re-producing ourselves. They may wish to begin with creating jobs to prevent Singaporeans from emigrating and help those who have already emigrated to return.

  13. I See Clearly Now says:

    I can understand I See Clearly Too’s efforts, searching beyond Singapore’s shores for a job. I hope he will not be disappointed if I say WE ALL need to face realities.

    Other countries also face the same unemployment problems. Unless one can bring additional benefits, no foreigners will be welcomed on any soil. Especially now. We need to hope that our government is better at creating jobs than others. This is why this article on “helping private enterprises create jobs” is so relevant to us.

    I’m not saying the Singapore government is doing nothing. The fact is the efforts of our civil servants, applying billions and achieving only limited results. Billions of taxpayers’ monies wasted. Like an earlier post said, the question is how effective and what are the results? How many of us really feel helped and how much help compared to how other governments helped their people?

    Whay the lack of focus to apply OUR MONEY to aid those who are in need? Why waste it on those who do not need help?

    I hope you see chearly now.

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