Two-thirds of businesses polled by KPMG believe the pace of economic restructuring, and in particular, policies to tighten foreign labour inflows, has been "too fast and too furious".

And if findings from KPMG's Pre-Budget 2014 Survey Report are to be believed, companies' attempts to tackle immediate business concerns (such as rising business costs and the manpower crunch) are stymieing their efforts to innovate.

Said Tay Hong Beng, head of tax at KPMG in Singapore: "A lot of businesses are burdened by short-term concerns of costs and labour. And that has come at the expense of value-creation activities (which are) extremely important for businesses in Singapore.

"Because of the size of the domestic market, Singapore businesses need to go abroad and venture into new markets as well, as they look into new ways of doing things (through) innovation."

Supported by the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC), KPMG's Pre-Budget 2014 Survey Report aims to highlight the thoughts of businesses here in the run-up to Feb 21.

It was sent out to both KPMG clients and SICC members between October and November last year, and attracted 159 responses.

When asked for their most urgent business concern in the year ahead, 32.7 per cent of respondents cited rising costs and inflation as the issue of paramount importance; 30.2 per cent said manpower restrictions and improving productivity were their top concern.

In contrast, far fewer companies said they expect to explore new markets (10.1 per cent), invest in new capabilities (5.6 per cent), and drive innovation (1.9 per cent).

And while almost all respondents (96.8 per cent) want the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme to be extended beyond its expiry in 2015, close to half (45.2 per cent) want the government to simplify its regulations, policies, and tax and other monetary incentives, to make them more relevant.

This, companies say, would keep Singapore competitive and attractive to businesses.

In addition, it would provide more support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in high-growth phases, but without the resources to deal with complex incentives and regulations.

Mr Tay also stressed the need for schemes to be administered based on a company's size and industry: "A lot of businesses feel that Singapore government agencies should be less broad-based in their administration of some of these policies (and) understand the unique requirements of each sector."

Even though more simplified conditions could, in theory, lead to instances of abuse, Mr Tay thinks such cases are likely to be outnumbered by genuine applications by far. "We tend to focus on fraudsters, but we may overdo things. (By) putting in many roadblocks, a lot of businesses who are genuinely entitled to tax incentives may be kept out altogether ... This needs a balanced (approach)," he added.