THE government aims to bring down its rate of late payment to business vendors to below 5 per cent on average, down from the current 6.5 per cent, said Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah in Parliament on Tuesday.
She said that the government processes an average of two million payments to more than 23,000 companies annually.
From 2018, all businesses that transact with the government only need to submit their payment details once. This means businesses do not have to submit their business details every time they transact with a different government agency. They can also use a mobile app to track their payment status.
In 2018, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (Acra) will simplify the filing of annual returns for exempt private companies and certain dormant companies. This will potentially benefit 150,000 companies, said Ms Indranee. Under the simplified process, the companies will just need to go through six steps to file their annual return, which is reduced from the current 24 steps. The annual returns can be filed on a mobile app, too.
The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will also pilot a digital tool with about 3,700 startups that are due to file their first tax returns this year, said Ms Indranee. This "startup kit" will automatically send email reminders on tax filings that are due, and provide a tax filing timeline for such early-stage firms.
The Ministry of Finance is collaborating with the private sector to seek out digital services that are more efficient as well.
The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, with support from government agencies, has developed a cloud exchange network software for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This partnership aims to increase SMEs' productivity by offering them accounting and HR solutions to help them file returns to Acra, IRAS, and the CPF board, said Ms Indranee. SMEs can now prepare their financial statements and tax submissions in one day, compared to an average of four days previously, she added.
The association intends to work with 300 SMEs by September 2018 using this software, and more than 1,500 SMEs in the subsequent 12 months.
"The government will continue to work closely with trade associations to accelerate the pace of digital adoption, and raise the productivity of our SMEs," said Ms Indranee.