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Small businesses in S’pore less bullish about growth outlook

SMALL businesses in Singapore are less confident about the growth outlook compared with six months ago, according to the latest survey by HSBC Singapore.

The bank conducted a survey covering more than 2,700 small businesses across nine economies.

In Singapore, only 32 per cent of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) surveyed expect faster economic growth over the next six months.

Just six months ago, 73 per cent of SMEs polled expected economic growth to speed up.

Singapore trails behind Vietnam, where 90 per cent of the SMEs polled expect faster growth over the next six months.

But Singapore SMEs are more optimistic than businesses in Hong Kong, where only 26 per cent of those polled expect the economy to grow at a faster pace.

About one-third of the respondents in Singapore plan to raise their capital expenditure over the next six months.

This was down from the 44 per cent of SMEs polled six months ago who said that they would be increasing their capital expenditure.

With fears of a global slowdown, only 24 per cent of respondents plan to expand their workforce by up to or more than 20 per cent over the next six months. Last year, about 36 per cent of Singapore SMEs said they plan to hire more staff.

In this year’s survey, a whopping 74 per cent of SMEs plan to maintain current staffing levels.

‘Clearly, these figures reflect a bit of a cautious outlook in Singapore, as compared with the previous survey,’ said HSBC Singapore’s head of commercial banking, Ms Tan Siew Meng.

Still, it bodes well for the economy as a whole that Singapore’s economy saw continued strong gross domestic product growth last year and most of the SMEs surveyed expect the same or higher level of growth this year, Ms Tan said.

The half-yearly survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of last year, covered SMEs in economies including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

SMEs were asked about their local economic outlook, and whether they plan to invest and hire. Those engaging in cross- border trade were asked their views on trade volumes with mainland China, the rest of Asia and the rest of the world.


Source: The Straits Times 5 Feb 08


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