SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are undoubtedly an important business sector, given that they employ two-thirds of workers here ("Restructuring for better times"; Monday). Indeed, they are the heart and soul of local entrepreneurship.

While the Government has launched several initiatives to help SMEs become more productive and less reliant on cheap foreign labour and outmoded technologies, the fast pace of change is untenable.

Singapore is a mature but small market, with intense competition and limited capital resources for most SMEs.

Also, the generally conservative mentality of banks here restricts access to financing for many SMEs.

These small businesses have to struggle to make ends meet, while coping with the labour crunch, soaring rents, rising wages and high certificate of entitlement prices for commercial vehicles.

On top of these, they have to ensure that their business models, service standards and products remain relevant and attractive to customers.

So the government restructuring initiatives have come rather abruptly for SMEs.

While I understand the need for higher productivity and automation, more needs to be done to make restructuring sustainable and not reduce the SME population through attrition.

A more balanced approach is needed, and the Government should take note of the impact of restructuring at the ground level.