SMEs stand a fair chance at being awarded Govt tenders: Tharman

PHOTO: SMEs stand a fair chance at being awarded Govt tenders: Tharman

SINGAPORE - In response to a Parliamentary question on whether more Government contracts can be awarded to local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the current procedures do give small enterprises a fair chance at being awarded Government tenders.

In 2011, about 20 per cent of the total number of Government tenders were awarded to small enterprises with net tangible assets of up to $250,000.

In addition, two out of three tenders with a value of $100,000 or below were awarded to small enterprises, Mr Tharman added.

The minister explained that as Singapore is party to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) and 18 Free Trade Agreements, the country's procurement regime is based on the agreed principles of open and fair competition, transparency and value-for-money.

Hence, all Government procurement opportunities are posted on the GeBIZ portal ( and are easily accessible by all suppliers.

Bids are evaluated based on whether they meet requirements and objectives of the tender, and not on whether they are local or foreign suppliers.

"To help local SMEs, our focus is on strengthening their capabilities and competitiveness and to do so without distorting the market, for example by diverting purchases to them," Mr Tharman said.

He added that the Government is allocating a $200 million boost to further build the capabilities of local enterprises to help them improve their market competitiveness.

However, the Government will ensure that local enterprises have continued access to Government procurement opportunities.

He advised small enterprises to plan ahead and if necessary, enter into joint collaborations such as forming a consortium to bid for high value Government contracts.

He added that local enterprises can opt to receive alerts on tenders and quotations relevant to them via GeBIZ's Really Simple Syndication (RSS) or via email on SPRING's EnterpriseOne portal.

As for measures to help SMEs in the event of a downturn, this would depend on the severity of the downturn and the specific conditions that are affecting businesses, Mr Tharman said.