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Policies & Guidelines

To protect and champion the interests of the business community, it is important for SBF to engage members on pertinent business issues and concerns, as well as keep members abreast of the latest changes in government regulations and policies. Members are also encouraged to provide their feedback to government agencies and SBF to create a conducive and pro-business environment.

The Ministry of Health issued a press release on 28 August 2016 confirming 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection in Singapore. Of these, 34 people have fully recovered while the other seven, who are still symptomatic and potentially infectious, are recovering at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. To find out more, please click here.

While the community transmission appears to be localised within the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive cluster, employers, unions and employees should work together to limit the spread of the Zika virus to ensure workplace safety and resilience.

For the Ministry of Manpower’s Advisory on Workplace Measures Against the Zika virus, please click here.

Companies filing XBRL financial statements with ACRA are reminded to ensure that the information filed is accurate and complete. This is crucial as the information filed becomes a public record. 

For past XBRL filings, companies should take appropriate steps such as filing a Notice of Error (NOE) to rectify any errors noted as soon as possible. Companies can refer to the list of common filing errors, compiled from past reviews of XBRL financial statements filed with ACRA.

Since 2013, ACRA has, in collaboration with their professional partners, provided training courses to help companies prepare their financials in full XBRL format at a heavily subsidised rate. Over 5,000 participants have attended these courses to-date. With the demand for such courses declining, these training subsidies will be phased out by 31 December 2016.

Participants applying for training subsidies (which are available for courses conducted before 31 December 2016) are strongly encouraged to submit their subsidy application forms to their respective training providers before 31 December 2016. This is to ensure that these applications are reviewed and approved in time.

For information on the list of training providers conducting XBRL training courses, please click here.

The United States have put in place new restrictions under their Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). From 21 January 2016, persons with a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTAs) who (a) have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan in the last five years; or (b) are dual citizens of VWP countries and the four said countries, will not be eligible to travel to the US under the VWP. The latest restrictions, which came into effect on 21 January 2016, do not bar travel to the US per se but require travellers from VWP countries to obtain a visa to enter US should they fulfil either or both of the afore-mentioned requirements.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Following the implementation of Phase 1 of the legislative amendments in the Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 in July 2015, ACRA has announced that Phase 2 of the Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 will take effect on 3 Jan 2016. This is in tandem with the launch of ACRA’s newly revamped online business filing and information portal (BizFile) on 3 Jan 2016, 0800 hrs.

BizFile System Migration from 26 Dec 2015 to 2 Jan 2016

In preparation for the launch, ACRA’s current BizFile will undergo system migration and will not be available from 26 Dec 2015 to 2 Jan 2016. The public will be advised to complete all BizFile related transactions before 25 Dec 2015, 2330 hrs.  This includes seeking the necessary endorsements from business partners and making payments, if required. Any incomplete transactions may require re-application when the revamped BizFile launches on 3 Jan 2016. A few select BizFile transactions that require a longer system processing time including purchase of business information from the ACRA iShop will not be available from 22 Dec 2015 to 2 Jan 2016. More details on the affected transactions can be found on ACRA's website.

Implementation of Legislative Amendments to the Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 and new Business Names Registration Act

The commencement notification for Phase 2 legislative amendments to be implemented on 3 Jan 2016, as well as supporting subsidiary legislation, will be published on ACRA website in Dec 2015. The new Business Names Registration Act will also take effect on 3 Jan 2016. 

Simplified Regulatory Fee Structure

The simplified regulatory fee structure that ACRA had previously announced in Oct 2014 will also take effect on 3 Jan 2016. 

ACRA is deferring the effective date of legislative changes to the Companies Act and the Business Names Registration Act to the 2nd quarter of 2015. This will give all agencies and stakeholders concerned additional time to adjust and prepare for these legislative changes.

The new simplified fee structure that ACRA had announced in Oct 2014, will likewise take effect in the 2nd quarter of 2015. ACRA's online business registration and filing portal – BizFile- which is currently being revamped, will be ready at the same time.

ACRA will announce the effective date and provide more details about two months before these changes are due to take place.

To receive email updates, BizFile users can also subscribe to ACRA’s News Alert service.

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has launched its first handbook titled “ACRA & I – Being an Effective Director”. 

The handbook is written for new or aspiring directors as well as those who have no formal training to help them better understand their responsibilities and duties. It also serves as a practical hands-on guide for these directors on the know-how in performing their statutory duties and meeting their legal and compliance requirements. The director’s handbook is launched as a part of ACRA’s suite of initiatives in the promotion of voluntary compliance among companies. 

Written from a regulator’s perspective and in a style that is easy to read, the handbook is based on ACRA’s past experiences and dealings with directors in default. The handbook provides information such as the requirements of directors, common statutory requirements under the Companies Act, passing of resolutions, capital maintenance, fiduciary duties, closing of company and many more. Real examples of non-compliance by directors and companies and the lessons learnt are also featured in the handbook, so as to serve as useful reference points for directors and professional advisers of companies. ACRA also engaged the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), the Singapore Association of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (SAICSA) and Singapore Compact for CSR to contribute on chapters on Preparation of Financial Statements, the Company Secretary and Corporate Social Responsibility. 

The softcopy is available for free download.

A hardcopy is available for sale at the ACRA office, 10 Anson Road, #05-01/15, International Plaza. 

Before an organisation starts to send any marketing message to a Singapore telephone number, it should check that: the number it is sending/calling to is not registered with the DNC Registry; the messages it is sending contain clear and accurate information identifying the organisation, as well as its contact details; and if making a phone call, the telephone number it is making the call from is not concealed. 

The DNC Registry contains three separate Registers of Singapore telephone numbers for voice calls, text messages (SMS/MMS/text) and faxes, which the organisation can check against. To check, the organisation shall submit a list of the telephone numbers that it is planning to send the messages to. The DNC Registry will then indicate on the list, whether each number is in any of the Registers. 

The organisation may then send its marketing messages to the numbers that are not in the relevant Registers. The organisation may rely on the information given by the DNC Registry on whether any number is registered on any of the Registers for up to 30 days. If the organisation intends to send the marketing message after the 30 days has lapsed, it must submit its list of numbers to the DNC registry again. To allow organisations to familiarise themselves with the requirements relating to the DNC registry, the prescribed duration (i.e. the 30 days referred to above) will be 60 days instead of 30 days for the first six months of the DNC Registry's operations.

FAQs for the DNC Registry

e-Filing service offers many benefits to companies. The article contains the following information that will benefit your members:

E-filing service for Form C-S and Form C will be available in June 2015. Read more here.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced new rules that require employers to consider Singaporeans fairly before hiring Employment Pass (EP) holders. Firms with discriminatory hiring practices will be subject to additional scrutiny and may have their work pass privileges curtailed. These changes will reinforce expectations for employers to consider Singaporeans fairly for job opportunities and enhance job market transparency.

The new rules, known as the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), draw on feedback from Singaporeans who have submitted their views to MOM, through MOM’s Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) on Jobs, and from key stakeholders such as the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and employer groups.

Employers looking to apply to hire an Employment Pass (EP) holder will have to advertise its vacancies on a new Government jobs bank administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) for at least 14 days prior to their application, starting from 1 August next year.

This rule is applicable to jobs paying up to $12,000 a month, under the Fair Consideration Framework, while small firms with 25 or fewer employees, and those jobs which pay a fixed monthly salary of S$12,000 and above, will be exempted from the advertising requirement. 

Companies that do not comply will not have their EP application approved, while those with disproportionately low numbers of Singaporeans at the PME level or are repeated complained of nationality-discrimination in their hiring will attract additional scrutiny and may have their work pass privileges curtailed.

Please click here for more information about the framework.

ACRA is pleased to announce that with immediate effect, all SingPass holders will be granted access to a free data analysis service on the BizFinx portal. The access allows users to generate a Free Data Analysis (FDA) report that was previously available only to company directors and secretaries of companies that file XBRL financial statements with ACRA.

The FDA report provides analysis on four key financial ratios which covers:

  • Trend analysis up to 5 years on the performance of a selected company

  • Benchmarking your selected company's performance against industry medians and up to 3 peer companies

ACRA has also developed new tips and guidance to help companies better prepare 2nd year XBRL financial statements with the BizFinx preparation tool.

More details can be found at this announcement on the BizFinx portal through this link.

ACRA announced a two-phase implementation approach for the legislative amendments to the Companies (Amendment) Act. About 40% of the over 200 legislative amendments will take effect in the first phase on 1 July 2015. The second phase encompassing the rest of the legislative amendments is expected to come into effect in the first quarter of 2016. Details on the key legislative amendments to be implemented in each phase can be viewed here.

This approach is being adopted as some legislative amendments are directly linked to the registration and filing processes in ACRA's online business filing and information portal, BizFile. BizFile is currently undergoing a major revamp, and is now expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

Companies Act amendments that have no or limited links to BizFile will be implemented under the first phase. The commencement notification for Phase 1 legislative amendments to be implemented on 1 July 2015 will be published by end May 2015, with supporting subsidiary legislation to be issued in June 2015. ACRA will provide two months' advance notice on the effective date of implementation for Phase 2 legislative amendments. 

Please check ACRA websiteACRA Facebook and subscribe to ACRA Newsalert for further updates. 

The Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP) was established in August 2000 to actively solicit feedback on rules and regulations that hinder businesses and stifle entrepreneurship. It is part of the Public Service 21 movement to ensure that government rules and regulations remain relevant and supportive of a pro-business environment.

Since its inception, the PEP has reviewed nearly 1,800 suggestions from businesses, of which more than half have been accepted for implementation. PEP has facilitated assistance to numerous businesses and individuals who encountered red tape. As a result, most of them have been able to work out viable solutions with the regulatory agencies. Agencies, in turn, have acquired a better understanding of businesses' needs.

The PEP is chaired by the Head of Civil Service and comprises business champions from the private sector and senior civil servants. SBF is represented on the panel and would actively channel members' feedback on any regulatory barriers to the PEP for its consideration to facilitate a pro-business environment for companies and businesses in Singapore. To find out more, please visit the PEP website.

If you have any feedback on rules and regulations that hinder your business or stifles entrepreneurship, click here to send your feedback to SBF. 

Monthly Variable Component or MVC is a "standby" component to be used by employers to bring down wage costs in sudden and severe business downturns to survive and save jobs. 

With the reduction of CPF contribution rate, there is little room to adjust wage cost through CPF cut in the future. Employers therefore should get ready MVC as an "emergency lever" to be used in bad times. 

Guide on How to Implement MVC for SMEs 

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by Parliament on 8 Oct 2014, contains amendments to the Companies Act aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on companies, providing for greater business flexibility and improving the corporate governance landscape in Singapore.

Several rounds of public consultation exercises were held to gather feedback on the legislative amendments and proposals from different stakeholder groups, including members of the Singapore business community.

The legislative changes will be implemented in 2 phases: about 40% of the over 200 legislative amendments will take effect on 1 July 2015, whilst the rest of the legislative amendments are targeted to take effect in the first quarter of 2016.

Read article

In accordance with the arrangement between the Government of the DPRK and the SBF, Singapore businessmen holding a Singapore passport travelling to the DPRK for business purposes with a “Letter of Confirmation” issued by the SBF will be allowed to enter and stay in the DPRK for a period of 30 days without a Visa.

This arrangement will take effect from 2 July 2012. 

Procedure for applying for a “Letter of Confirmation”

Singapore businessmen who wish to apply for a “Letter of Confirmation” from the SBF are required to submit the request together with the following documents:
 One original copy of the “Letter of Indemnity/Request for Letter of Confirmation” duly accomplished and signed as per the attached format under the official letterhead of the company represented by the applicant. The authorised signatory for the applicant’s company must be a member of its board of directors or a senior/high-ranking officer.
One photocopy of a Letter of Introduction (“LOI”) to be issued by a local contact in the DPRK to certify the purpose of the applicant’s visit to the DPRK. The local contact must be a registered business entity in the DPRK. 
One photocopy of the applicant's passport bio-data page. Please ensure that the passport is valid for at least 6 months.
Upon receipt of the request, SBF will process the request and issue the “Letter of Confirmation” within 3 working days from the date of receipt of the request, provided all required documents/information are in order and payment is duly made. The applicant’s passport must to be presented to SBF for verification purposes, upon collection of the “Letter of Confirmation”.

The “Letter of Confirmation” may be collected from SBF from Mondays through Fridays (excluding public holidays) from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Administration Fee

S$ 21.40 for SBF Members (inclusive of GST) 
S$ 42.80 for Non-SBF Members (inclusive of GST)

Other Requirements

The applicant and the local contact in the DPRK may be required to furnish such additional documents and information as may be necessary. For enquiries please e-mail us.

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