COS 2022: Clarifications on COMPASS Framework

MP Jamus Lim

Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim (Sengkang): Thank you Chairman. Two clarification questions about the COMPASS framework. The first has to do with the scoring which currently gives 20 points default to firms smaller than 25 PMETs and I understand the premise behind that. The concern here is, of course, that it creates potentially a cliff edge effect for firms that are growing, such that it will be trickier for them to attain C3 and C4 to get up to 40 points, in the event that they want to grow and become a medium-sized firm. The concern here of course is that we create an artificial ceiling for firms, just like it is for small firms in Italy, where they intentionally just stay below the medium-size threshold. 

My second question has to do with public data releases for the foundational criteria used to construct COMPASS. It would really help, I feel, if MOM will consider releasing data for sub-sectors to ensure firms and Singaporeans understand the reality of the given business environment. So, for example, for C1 in salary, we have data reported on gross monthly income from work at the median as well as the 20th percentile, but it will be useful to have it for the other sectors. Similarly, for C2 qualification, it would also be useful to understand the level of the highest qualification for our resident labour force and of those employed.

Dr Tan See Leng: I thank Assoc Prof Jamus Lim for his two points.

Well, I was an entrepreneur and I founded a firm and subsequently, I have also in due funded a couple of startups. I think that as a growing firm, the first thing that you would assess, for the founder or the entrepreneur, is to assess the market and to know what are the rules that they will operate under.

Having said that, I think the length of time that we have given for everyone to try to adjust to the framework itself, I think it is a fairly long runway. And the flexibility, the nimbleness, the responsiveness of the entrepreneur or the founder, is going to be quite paramount in ensuring that the firm will ultimately succeed. And I am pretty sure that there are many private equity affiliate professionals here amongst us, I think who would probably agree and testify to that.

So, on paper, it looks like as if it may cause a cliff effect, but I think in reality, given the nuanced approach, we believe that there will be enough time for people to adapt.

As far as the foundational criteria is concerned, we are going to start this on 1 September 2023. I think there is still time for us to see when it comes to the implementation, how we can actually get a set of nuanced data for everyone to be able to access and also to understand.

Assoc Prof Jamus Lim, the reassurance that I want to give to all startups, all SMEs, is that we are trying our best to support our own Singapore business ecosystem. We have the Singapore Global Enterprise Aspiration, earlier on, we have also shared the Enterprise 2030 vision and we do have multiple schemes available to support them. 

However, as we support them, as we use funding to support this group, the moment they get to a certain size, I think it is also the social compact and their responsibility to ensure that our Singaporean Core continues to be supported, to be brought along with them as well. So, it is not just about caring for our fellow Singaporeans, it is also about carrying them alongside with us as well. That is the intent of this initiative. I hope to get your support and your concurrence on this.

7 March 2022
Ministry of Manpower

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