Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are taking a hit from China's economic slowdown and many are hoping to receive financial help from the government's 2016 budget, due later Thursday.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has said that this year's budget will have a "strong focus on the economy," fueling expectations that new measures would be geared toward boosting economic growth and helping local companies increase revenues.
That would be good news for companies such as Berlitz Offshore & Marine Group, which has seen revenue shrink due to a dearth of new orders amid the decline in oil prices. The privately-owned business, which mainly charters vessels for offshore construction activities, saw charter rates drop by as much as half in the past year, with revenue declining by more than 20 percent.
Berlitz's CEO Chan Kern Miang has some clear ideas about what his business needs from the budget: "I would like to see the government giving financial assistance, because right now, the banks are very scared of lending, especially to those in the oil and gas sector."
Manufacturers are also feeling the pain from external headwinds. The sector, which makes up a fifth of Singapore's economy, experienced a 5.2 percent decline last year, compared with a 2.7 percent expansion in 2014, according to a report by the Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore.