With the gradual reopening of attractions and resumption of tourism in Singapore due to relaxed COVID-19 measures, Singapore businesses are coming back into pre-pandemic conditions. Singapore is regaining its status as a business hub and there has been a notable increase in business incorporations during the previous month. According to the latest ACRA statistics, around 5,651 local and foreign companies were incorporated in Singapore in March 2022, compared to 4,717 companies in February 2022. Statistics show that the highest number of entities being incorporated in Singapore are found in the professional services sector — 891, compared to 764 in February 2022; the information and communications sector — 858 compared to 729 in the previous month; and 720 in the finance and insurance sector, compared with 622 in the previous month.
If you are interested in setting up your business in Singapore or want to establish a business presence in the country, contact our team for support and we will be glad to assist you with your needs.
Singapore Launches Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme
On March 4, 2022, the Ministry of Communications and Information announced new measures to cope with issues that customers are unable to resolve directly with their telecommunications providers. Under the new Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme, it will launch a platform that helps consumers and small businesses resolve disputes directly with service providers. administered by the Singapore Mediation Centre.
The program covers dispute cases related to telecommunication and media services, with a maximum value of up to S$10,000. The scheme provides a favorable fee distribution policy for consumers. They will need to pay just a small part of the fees for the resolution process, requiring the rest to be paid by the service provider. Before the formal dispute resolution process starts, the service provider has a 14-day notice period to negotiate and resolve the dispute. The formal dispute resolution process is expected to take no more than 2.5 months.
“The scheme’s fee distribution ratio would help to reduce the disparity in bargaining power between customers and operators. This would incentivize an improvement in operators’ handling of complaints from customers.”Infocomm Media Development Authority
Changes to Singapore’s Extradition Laws
On March 7, 2022, an Extradition Bill was proposed in Parliament for the first reading that introduces changes to existing extradition laws. The proposed changes are aimed at modernizing Singapore’s Extradition Act. The new regime will improve the extradition process and secure the return of fugitives who have committed an offense in Singapore. Over the past 10 years, Singapore has not conducted a huge number of extradition cases: 8 from the country to another requesting state, and 4 extradition cases returning persons back to Singapore.
The key changes proposed by the Parliament are:
- Implementation of the threshold approach for determining extradition offenses
- Expanding restrictions on surrender of persons
- Updating extradition evidentiary procedures
- Centralizing review procedures for extradition cases
- Introducing a mechanism for fugitives to consent to their extradition. They will be able to waive full extradition proceedings if a fugitive has been convicted in his/her absence; is being prosecuted for military offenses; only has a short jail term remaining; or if the prosecution in the requesting state is barred owing to a limitation period.
Updated extradition proceedings will save costs by ensuring the proper use of limited state resources for extradition, and prevent fugitives from being imprisoned for longer than required. Singapore’s new approach will bring it in line with well-developed countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
IRAS Introduces Two New Tax Frameworks
On March 18, 2022, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) introduced the Tax Governance Framework and the Tax Risk Management and Control Framework for Corporate Income Tax. Together with the existing Goods and Services Tax Assisted Compliance Assurance Program, these new programs introduce free compliance tools that help companies strengthen their tax compliance. IRAS aims to work closely with companies to enable them to build a great infrastructure that supports voluntary compliance.
The Tax Governance Framework is focused on improving the company’s tax governance standards and elevating them to the board of directors level. This framework is available for any company that is willing to adopt it and applicable for both corporate income tax and goods and services tax. It also gives companies that gain a special status a longer grace period for voluntary disclosure of tax errors: 2 years for corporate tax and withholding tax errors made within 2 years from the date a special status was awarded; and 2 or 3 years for goods and services tax errors made within 2 years from the date a special status was awarded.
The Tax Risk Management and Control Framework for Corporate Income Tax is designed for large companies with complex structures and business models. The program helps these companies establish robust internal controls to monitor and mitigate corporate tax risks. Eligible companies that gain a special status will be awarded a one-time waiver of penalties for voluntary disclosure of prior corporate tax and withholding tax errors. Additionally, companies will be eligible for a step-down on corporate tax compliance audit for 3 years from the date they gained a special status under the program.
These frameworks are among numerous business incentive programs introduced by the Singapore Government. If you want to learn more about the benefits for your business that Singapore offers, contact our incentive consultants for assistance. Our “matchME™ with Incentives” tool will help you understand which tax credits, grants, incentives, and funding sources your company is eligible for.
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