If you are a foreigner who starts a business in Singapore for the first time, you may find it confusing when incorporating in this nation. With that being said, knowing specific Singapore government agencies is rather important. The reason is that you will need to work with some government agencies to fulfill your business’s compliance requirements during its whole-time operation (such as annual filing to ACRA).
Furthermore, in case you have not noticed, there are a large number of incentives and schemes offered by particular government agencies in Singapore. Thus, you need to know which agency is in charge of which schemes in order to apply for those support programs.
Below is a list of Singapore government agencies that you should know, in which there are some agencies that you will regularly deal with when establishing and running your business in Singapore.
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1. Three Singapore Government Agencies That You Must Know
The 3 following governmental organizations are the ones that your business is highly likely to work with at a regular frequency:
1.1. Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
What is ACRA in Singapore? ACRA is the national regulator of business entities, public accountants and service providers in Singapore. It was formed in 2004 with the merger of the Registry of Companies and Businesses (RCB) and the Public Accountants’ Board (PAB).
ACRA’s main responsibilities are administering business registration as well as managing profiles of business entities, public accountants and services providers in Singapore, according to related laws. Furthermore, ACRA is also in charge of updating and promoting new changes in respect of business structure, compliance requirements and any other related matters. In other words, the agency is also responsible for being one of the national sources of news.
In practice, ACRA will definitely be one of the Singapore government agencies that your business regularly works with, since you need to submit annual returns to ACRA each year as well as update immediately any changes regarding your business to this agency. In addition, it is also necessary for you to frequently visit ACRA’s website in order to keep up with the latest compliance requirements for enterprises in Singapore. Normally, your company secretary will represent your business to deal with ACRA.
1.2. Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
IRAS is the Singapore tax authority and in charge of tax administration in this nation. The IRAS’s website gives guidance on different kinds of taxes, including:
The Singapore tax authority IRAS offers e-services via myTax Portal for both individuals and businesses to manage and pay different types of taxes. Generally, each year, your business needs to file Estimated Chargeable Income (ECI) and file annual tax returns with ACRA. Moreover, IRAS is also responsible for many supporting schemes to assist both individuals and businesses. Job support scheme and Wage credit scheme are the top two examples that have significantly assisted many businesses to overcome the harsh pandemic situation in 2020.
1.3. Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
The Ministry of Manpower of Singapore is the governmental organization that oversees overall employment in the country. The agency is not only in charge of setting out employment practices based on the Employment Act but also responsible for issuing work passes and permits, including:
- Employment Pass (suitable if you are a foreign manager or executives);
- Entre Pass (suitable if you are an entrepreneur who wishes to open a business in Singapore);
- Other passes (for short-term visits or for trainees and family members).
Singapore Ministry of Manpower contact number: 6438 5122.
2. Three Singapore Government Agencies That You Need to Know
During the operation time in Singapore, your company may be in need of finding external support to back up its business. Knowing these following government agencies will be rather helpful since they offer a considerable number of supporting schemes and incentives.
2.1. Economic Development Board (EDB)
EDB is a government agency that plans and carries out strategies to improve Singapore’s economic competitiveness. It oversees a wide range of crucial industries in Singapore and these industries are stated to account for more than a third of Singapore’s annual GDP.
Why do you need to know about this agency? It is because EBD provides you with lots of insight into the region by supplying details and statistics on many industries, especially advanced manufacture and innovations as key business activities. More information can be found on EBD’s website.
More essentially, EBD is in charge of many incentives and support schemes for some specific industries in Singapore. The support comes under different forms, ranging from grants (for research, training, and productivity) to tax incentives (for pioneer activities, industrial land-efficiency, or corporate treasury). In addition, EBD has a wide network of business partners (including both Singapore government agencies and private companies) from which you can seek support to expand your investment in Singapore.
Last but not least, EBD offers the Global Investor Programme (GIP) through which you can achieve the status of Singapore Permanent Resident (PR). If you are interested in being a Singapore PR in the future, you can read some useful information in our article on how to apply for PR in Singapore.
2.2. Enterprise Singapore
Enterprise Singapore was formed in 2018 with the merger of International Enterprise Singapore and STRING. This government agency’s aim is to enhance enterprise development by providing both financial assistance (grants, tax incentives, loans and insurance) and non-financial assistance (business toolkits, talent attraction and development, etc.). With the enterprise-centric approach, Enterprise Singapore works closely with companies to build up capabilities, innovation and internationalization of these organizations.
Enterprise Singapore especially puts more effort into nurturing start-ups. Startup SG is one outstanding example, it comprises nine sub-programs supporting different aspects of a start-up. If you establish a new company in Singapore, especially in the technology and innovation fields, these supports may bring significant benefits to help your business survive and grow in such a competitive market.
2.3. Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
MAS is the central bank of Singapore. It is also the national financial regulator that works closely with the Singapore financial industry to push the nation forward as a dynamic international financial centre. Particularly, MAS oversees all of financial institutions in Singapore, including banks, insurers, capital market intermediaries, financial advisors, and stock exchanges.
As the industrial supervisor and supporter, MAS has announced plenty of beneficial schemes and incentives to assist many business areas, especially Fintech and Innovation. Some examples for Fintech schemes are MAS FSTI Proof-of-Concept Scheme, MAS FSTI Innovation Centre Grant and MAS Grant for Equity Market Singapore (GEMS). More can be found on MAS’s website.
3. List of Other Singapore Government Agencies
If your business sector or activity is governed by a specific government agency, you need to work with that organization to get permits or licenses in order to carry out business in that sector. Some of other Singapore government agencies that you may need to know are:
- Professional Engineers Board (PEB)
- Health Sciences Authority
- Hotels Licensing Board
- Singapore Tourism Board
- National Environment Agency
- Council of Estate Agencies
- Media Development Authority of Singapore
- Ministry of Education
To know which agency is in charge of which business activity and which license, you can read our BBIncorp’s article on Business Licenses and Permits in Singapore.
Should you have any further questions on Singapore government agencies, please don’t hesitate to ask our experts! BBCIncorp is always willing to help!