New stat board to raise accountancy standards

SINGAPORE - A new statutory board will be created to help drive and raise the standards of accountancy here, with the passing of a Bill to legislate the formation of a Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC).

Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo said that the new body would help to design and register the Singapore Qualification Programme, an accountancy qualification course.

The SAC Bill was one of several Bills covering a wide range of economic and financial activities that were passed on Monday.

Moves were also made to strengthen the central bank's supervision of the country's payment systems: An amendment to the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act was passed to give the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) immediate emergency powers to act if a payment operator faces a crisis.

Under the current rules, the MAS can act only after a minimum period of time, noted MAS board member Lawrence Wong, who was speaking on behalf of Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The Government also took the opportunity to pass amendments to the Stamp Duty Act, which included changes announced in last year's Budget.

Then, tax concessions were announced for mergers and acquisitions completed between Feb 17 last year and March 31, 2015, to facilitate corporate restructuring, said Mrs Teo.

The changes also clarify that stamp duty is not chargeable on a conveyance on sale of any type of property other than immovable property, stocks and shares.

Lastly, amendments to the Economic Expansion Incentives Act were also passed, with Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang saying that they would help stimulate economic activity here.

One of the main changes enhances tax incentives for Singapore companies with operations overseas, while another extends the tax relief for the Development and Expansion Incentive.

The tax incentive was instituted to encourage high-value firms to operate in Singapore.

Mr Lim said that to give these companies further incentives to continue to grow here, "we will lengthen the maximum incentive period from 20 to 40 years".

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