SINGAPORE - Singapore's maritime sector will be getting fresh funds and programmes that will build up a local talent pool, improve productivity levels and spur more research and development activity.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the government will set aside $25 million to support productivity initiatives among maritime companies.
Singapore has 5,000 maritime companies that employ 170,000 people. The sector contributes 7 per cent to Singapore's GDP.
The Maritime Cluster Fund-Productivity Programme will co-fund business initiatives, such as business process re-engineering, automation and adoption of other productivity tools or practices.
"Productivity improvements are indeed critical not only for Singapore's maritime sector but also across the global maritime industry, given the universal challenges of cost pressures and shortage of skilled manpower," said Mr Tharman in his opening remarks at the Sea Asia Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday.
Singapore's harbour craft sector was singled out as a potential beneficiary of the MCF-Productivity Programme. Operators that manually assign their vessels to work could use IT systems to do the job in real time.
In coming months, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore will be working with harbour craft operators to review the sector's highly fragmented market structure and identify opportunities for productivity improvements.
"These may include re-defining business models, developing new harbour craft designs, re-designing jobs and upskilling harbour craft workers," Mr Tharman said.
The government will also continue a maritime research and development kitty for another five years with a $50 million injection.