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New Productivity Index for SMEs
With small and medium enterprises (SMEs) forming the nucleus of our economy - they account for roughly 70 per cent of employment in Singapore - the government's main concern is to improve productivity by 2-3% within the next decade. To achieve those figures, the National University of Singapore's Asia Competitiveness Institute is currently developing a productivity index to help SMEs monitor their productivity, efficiency and manpower management in a systematic manner. Consisting of 100 key indicators to detect weaknesses and problems within their operations, a total of 1,000 SMEs will be involved in the index's developmental phase, by contributing their financial reports, company practices and a series of surveys. It will be the first such index in Singapore.
L.D. Waxson gets US$144 million face-lift
Indian conglomerate Wipro recently reached an agreement to buy top local beauty products company L.D. Waxson for US$144 million. Known for their household brands such as Ginvera, Bio-essence and Ebene, the firm was set up in 1985 by Dr. Tor Lam Huat - a meteoric rise since then has seen its revenue soar to US$68 million in 2012. L.D. Waxson was also a distinguished luminary of SMBA's Promising SME 500 campaign 2012.
Govt will continue to keep close watch on inflation: DPM Tharman
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the government will continue to keep a close watch on inflation, and is prepared to introduce additional measures if necessary. Singapore's CPI-All Items inflation rose to 5.3 per cent in June 2012 from 5.0 per cent the previous month. Excluding rentals on owner-occupied homes, inflation was 4.4 per cent in June 2012. He spoke of measures to contain rising costs and help lower-income consumers. One such measure includes the National Environment Agency (NEA) adopting management models to keep costs controlled and low. NTUC FoodFare, a social cooperative, was appointed to run the new Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre on a not-for-profit basis. NEA also plans to add 10 more hawker centres to provide affordable options to more Singaporeans. Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has continued to implement a tightening of monetary policy through the appreciation of the Singapore dollar to curb inflation effected by demand and imports. MAS will relook its monetary policy stance in October.
New wage model set to benefit hotel employees
Some 3,000 locals working in Singapore hotels are set to get pay increases with the implementation of a new wage model. They will get between 10 and 50 per cent more, depending on their job scopes. The new progressive wage model was launched on Tuesday by the labour movement's Hospitality and Consumer Business Cluster. The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) aims to equip staff with skills beyond their job scopes to supplement productivity and as a result increase their wages. Workers will be sent for training to upgrade their skills, so they can be deployed in multiple areas in their line of work. The model is intended to benefit rank and file staff and executives employed in hotels. Under the programme, hotels develop a 12- to 18-month training schedule for supervisors, approved by Singapore's Workforce Development Agency (WDA). WDA funds the training, capped at S$1,400 a month per individual. Hotels must pay the supervisors it wants to send for training to at least S$1,800 monthly before using the fund. Hotels will further increase the salary of supervisors to at least S$2,000 upon successful completion of training. The initiative will start with 3,000 workers, but NTUC wants the progressive wage system to impact more of the 30,000-odd staff working for hotels in Singapore.
CPF interest rate remains at 2.5% on Ordinary Accounts
All CPF members will continue to receive a risk-free interest rate of 2.5 per cent on their Ordinary Account savings from October 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. The 2.5 per cent interest rate is the legislated minimum per annum. Additionally, an extra one percent interest on the first $60,000 of their combined balances, with up to $20,000 from the OA will continue to be paid. The concessionary interest rate for HDB mortgage loans, which is pegged at 0.1 percentage point above the CPF interest rate for the OA, will remain unchanged at 2.60 per cent per annum from October 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.