Singapore cuts red tape for businesses

02 Aug 2018

The Singapore government has made significant changes to the rules governing companies, further enhancing the country’s reputation as a good place to do business.

The Companies (Amendment) Act 2017 was passed in Parliament in March last year. Some of the changes took effect from March 2017. These include locally-incorporated companies and foreign companies registered in Singapore having to maintain a register of registrable controllers. In addition, Singapore incorporated companies must now keep a register of nominee directors. There’s also no longer a requirement for companies to use a common seal.

But other changes in the act – affecting Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and annual returns - take effect from 31 August 2018.  Private companies with financial years ending on or after 31 August must now ensure that they hold their AGMs within six months after the end of their financial year. Private companies will no longer need to hold AGMs as long as they send their financial statements to members within five months of their financial year end. However, any member or auditor can request an AGM if they do so within stipulated timelines.

In addition, companies must now file their annual returns within seven months after their financial year end, as long as they have either held an AGM or sent out financial statements if they aren’t required to hold one. Certain private companies can also enjoy simplified annual returns filing process. Nancy Koh, Associate Director, Corporate Services at ZEDRA Singapore said: “These changes simplify filing annual returns for many companies. After 31 August many small private companies will not have to hold AGMs (unless requested) or prepare audited financial statements”.

Lisa Tan, Executive Director, Head of Corporate Services at ZEDRA Singapore added: “Historically, Singapore has been highly ranked by the World Bank for the ease of doing business. These latest changes, which reduce the regulatory burden on companies, show Singapore is determined to remain one of the most business-friendly countries, encouraging competitiveness and growth for both local and foreign companies registered here”.

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