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Singapore


Singapore

SINGAPORE

HISTORY AND POLITICAL STRUCTURE

Singapore lies just north of the equator, between Malaysia and Indonesia. The country consists of one large island and around 60 islets. The main island comprises low, rounded hills and water reservoirs in its centre, low ridges to the west and south-west, and is flat to the east and south-east. Short, narrow streams flow from the central hills and onward to the sea through mangrove swamps.

The highest point is Bukit Timah at 545 feet (166 metres); the lowest point is the Singapore Strait, at 0 feet. Total land area is 269 sq miles (697 sq km), of which only 3.9 sq miles (10 sq km) is water. Singapore’s only natural resources are deepwater ports and fish.

The climate is hot and very humid, with two monsoon periods: from December to March (north-eastern monsoon), and from June to September (the south-western monsoon). Between the monsoon periods, there are frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

The population was estimated to be 4.66 million in July 2009. The main ethnic groups are Chinese (74%), Malay (13%)
and Indian (9.2%). According to the 2000 census, languages include Mandarin (35%), English (23%), Malay (14.1%),
Hokkein (11.4%), Cantonese (5.7%), Teochew (4.9%) and Tamil (3.2%). English is the language most used for business
purposes.

Religions include Buddhist (42.5%), Muslim (14.9%), Taoist (8.5%), Hindu (4%), Catholic (4.8%) and other Christian (9.8%) (2000 census).

With its multi-ethnic and diverse religious cultures, Singapore models itself on a western cosmopolitan metropolis with distinct leanings towards money and business. However, etiquette and protocol very much follow Asian traditions; westerners looking to do business in Singapore would do well to study these carefully.

The government of Singapore is a parliamentary republic. The unicameral parliament comprises 84 seats, to which members are elected by popular vote for five-year terms.

The president, who is head of state, is elected by popular vote for a term of six years; the current president is Sellapan Ramanathan. The president usually appoints the leader of the majority party or of a majority coalition as prime minister, who is head of government. The current prime minister is Lee Hsien Loong. The president also appoints the deputy prime ministers and the cabinet. The next elections are due to be held on April 1, 2011.

The legal system is based on English common law, and is executed by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Subordinate Courts.

ECONOMY

Like most financial centres, Singapore was hit badly by the recent recession, and growth tumbled from around 7.8%
of GDP in 2007 to 1.1% in 2008 and -2.6% in 2009. However, growth of between 7% and 9% is predicted for 2010.
GDP per capita was estimated in 2009 to be USD50,300, putting Singapore fifth in the world and ahead of the USA.
Singapore’s main industries include electronics; financial services; chemicals; oil-drilling equipment and petroleum re-
fining; ship repair; rubber processing and products; offshore platform construction; life sciences; and entrecote trade.
Exports are key to Singapore’s economy; in 2009 it was estimated that exports amounted to USD245bn (a drop from an
estimated USD343bn in 2008). Singapore’s main export partners are Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Japan and the USA. Imports amounted to an estimated USD210bn in 2009, down from around USD310bn in 2008;
main import partners include China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the USA. Both imports
and exports shot up in early 2010, however.

 

The local currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD).

 

Singapore has excellent telecommunications. It is estimated that, with landline and mobile phones combined, there are approximately 175 phones per 100 people. In 2008, there were 3.37 million Internet users.

There are eight airports in Singapore, the main one being Changi International Airport. There is a good road network, with a causeway linking Singapore with Malaysia. There is also a train service linking Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, with trains running to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Bangkok.

The Port of Singapore is the world’s busiest in terms of total shipping tonnage, transhipment and containers, handling
some 140,000 vessels each year. The port is also the world’s third largest petrochemical refiner, and operates South-
East Asia’s most technically advanced and efficient shipbuilding and ship-repair facilities. The Singapore Registry of
Ships has over 3,000 registered vessels totalling more than 29 million gross tonnes, and offers tax advantages and
financial incentives to Singapore-registered vessels under the Approved International Shipping Enterprise scheme, the
Approved Shipping Logistics scheme, the Maritime Finance Incentive scheme, and the Maritime Cluster Fund.

There are six Singapore-incorporated banks which are owned by three banking groups: DBS Bank Limited, Far East-
ern Bank Ltd, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Ltd, Singapore Island Bank Ltd, The Islamic Bank of Asia, and United

Overseas Bank Ltd. Over 100 foreign commercial banks are registered in Singapore, including some 40 or so offshore
banks.

There are five free trade zones (FTZs) located at the Port of Singapore, Jurong Port, Sembawang Wharves, Pasir Panjang Wharves, and Airport Logistics Park of Singapore. No duty or taxes are payable on goods stored in an FTZ, but they are payable when the goods leave the FTZ and enter into customs territory for local consumption. Customs procedures for movement of goods within FTZs have been simplified and paperwork reduced.

Import, export and transhipment of goods require a permit via TradeNet, and foreign traders must work with local freight forwarders and traders to obtain a permit. Permission from Singapore Customs are required for repacking, sorting and reconditioning of goods held in the FTZ.

The Singapore FreePort is located at Changi International Airport, and offers integrated services that handle shipping, storage, display and trade of valuable assets such as jewellery, fine art, gems, antiques, vintage cars and fine wines. The FreePort provides maximum security and 24/7 security access.

WHY CHOOSE SINGAPORE WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS?

Singapore is well known around the world as a multicultural, multi religious and multi racial harmonious island food paradise. Starting as a quiet, laid back fishing village, Singapore has grown exponentially to become of the most densely populated country in the world with a population of 4.8million living closely together in a land area of 224.5 square miles. Singapore has also become the richest country in South East Asia and one of the most developed countries in the world. It is no surprise then that Singapore has attracted various organisations ranging from the Fortune 500 companies, small and medium enterprises, educational institutions to news bureaus to take their place in Singapores business landscape. So why follow the footsteps of those who have established successful businesses? Why set up your business in Singapore? Why Singapore?

Below are top three reasons why Singapore is a great place to set up your business. A Favourable Business Climate

According to the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI), there is an estimated 6,000 Multinational Corporations (MNCs)
in Singapore. Many of these MNCs have chosen Singapore as the prime location of their Asia Pacific headquarters
due to its positive business climate. For example, the World Banks Doing Business 2009 Report ranked Singapore as
the world’s easiest place to do business, ahead of New Zealand, United States and Singapore’s closest competitor,
Hong Kong. The EIU Country Forecast published in February 2008 also rated Singapore as having the best business
environment in the Asia Pacific region and third in the world. These rankings by independent bodies are reflective of
the Singapore Governments efforts in providing efficient public sector services that support the private sector growth.

 

World Class Transportation System

 

Singapore’s Changi International Airport has three heavily used terminals serving over 80 international airlines flying to more than 190 cities in 160 countries. Changi International Airport also handled more than 4,500 arrivals and departures weekly, 37.7 million passengers and 1.85million tonnes of air freight in 2008.

With the high cost of owning private transportation, public transportation is efficient, frequent and spans every far-
reaching corner of the island. Singaporeans flock to the 70 railway stations of the Singapores Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
system have a daily total of 1.564 million commuters. The two public bus companies with a fleet of 3,600 single and
double decker air-conditioned buses daily transport nearly 3.12 million passenger trips safely to 295 routes islandwide.

 

Highly Educated Workforce

 

Singapore boasts one of the most educated workforces in the world. Literacy rate stands at a formidable 96%. 89.6%
of resident non students aged 25-39 have secondary or higher qualifications. In a further significant testament to the
huge importance placed on education, the Singapore Government invested S$7,298.1 million in education in 2008.
This approaches 25.5% of total government operating expenditure, making education the second highest expenditure
after security and defence. In addition, Singapores two long established universities, the National University of Singa-
pore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also rank favourably on various university ranking surveys.

Advantages of the Jurisdiction of Singapore

 

The following are the advantages of starting a Business in Singapore:

 

•   Due to the positive image of a Singapore company, Singapore company formation is an excellent corporate vehicle
      to promote to customers, suppliers, investors, venture capitalists, governments and banks.

•   A Singapore company is not perceived as an offshore company in a tax haven. Singapore is a reputable, highly
     
regulated, globally trading jurisdiction. Singapore is ranked equally with Denmark and New Zealand as the least
      corrupt country in the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International. This survey is a measure
     
of corruption amongst public officials and politicians in 178 nations.

•   A properly-structured Singapore company enjoys legal tax exemption on profits earned outside Singapore, as
            outlined by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. In addition, S$200,000 (approximately US$156,000) of
corporate profits earned in Singapore can be legally tax-exempt for the first three years of business trading. These 

benefits make Singapore company formation a secure long-term solution compared to jurisdictions such as the
British Virgin Islands or Cayman Islands. To highlight Singapore’s tax advantages, private companies recently vot-

 

ed Singapore as the state with the least burdensome taxes in the world, according to Grant Thornton International. • A Singapore company enjoys access to comprehensive double taxation treaties with 62 countries including Japan,
      China, Germany, France, the UK and Canada

 

•     Singapore boasts strong client confidentiality laws and has been taken off the Organisation for Economic Coopera-
      tion and Development (OECD) grey list after meeting the requirements set by the OECD.
After Singapore company formation, an annual statutory financial audit is not required if corporate turnover/sales
      is less than S$5 million (US$3.9 million).

 

•     According to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), a Singapore company is obliged to register for
      goods & services tax (GST) if annual sales exceed S$1 million (US$781,000). GST registration by a non-resident
      Singapore company enjoys GST refunds from the Singapore government.

 

•     To counter the effects of the global economic downturn, the Singapore government offers a range of incentives and
      initiatives to assist investors choosing Singapore company registration. These include:

 

i. SPRING Singapore’s Incubator Development Programme (IDP). Under this initiative, existing Singapore compa-
nies designated by the government as ‘Incubators’ and who provide support services such as product commer-
cialization and assistance finding investors, can claim up to 70% of the costs of providing these services.

 

ii. Offering Permanent Residence to entrepreneurs investing at least S$1 million in the registration of a new Sin-
gapore company or as capital in an existing business. This incentive from the Singapore Economic Development
Board (EDB) is called the Global Investor Program (GIP)  Part of the investment can be used to purchase residential
property.

 

iii. International Enterprise (IE) Singapore developed market access programmes to assist businesses growth during the current downturn. These programs focus on developing export competencies.

 

•     Singapore company formation is popular with foreign investors setting up a regional or global headquarters. The
      Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) offers a range of grants and financial incentives to investors. Ac-
     
cording to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), business-friendly Singapore is
      the fifth-largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Asia, after China and Hong Kong.
As a global private banking and wealth management hub, Singapore is rapidly becoming the preferred financial
      services centre and place to live for the world’s wealthy.

 

•     It is easy to organise international banking accounts following Singapore company incorporation. To open a Sin-
      gapore corporate bank account, Healy Consultants works with internationally-recognised banks such as HSBC,
      Standard Chartered and Citibank to provide corporate bank account services.

 

•     Unlike jurisdictions such as Dubai, it is not necessary to rent a physical office to incorporate a company in Singa-
      pore. Healy Consultants offers a full Singapore virtual office service, from short-term Singapore office rental to daily
     
telephone answering and mail forwarding services.

 

•     Singapore is ranked 2nd in the 2009-2010 Global Information Technology report rising from 3rd in the previous
      edition of the report. The report is released by the World Economic Forum in conjunction with INSEAD and is well
      recognised as an authoritative analysis of the impact of information and communication technology on a country’s
     
competitiveness

 

•     In its 2010 World Competitiveness Scoreboard the Switzerland-based IMD positively ranks Singapore as the world’s
     
most competitive economy. The ranking takes into account economic performance, government efficiency, busi-
      ness efficiency and infrastructure. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum ranks Singapore at 3rd in its Global
      Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, taking into account factors such as infrastructure, macroeconomic stability,
      health and education, labour market efficiency, technological readiness and innovation. This is an improvement
      from 5th in the previous survey.

 

•     Forming a Singapore company gives access to a highly competitive economy. It is positively ranked as the world’s
     
second-freest economy in the Heritage Organisation’s 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, a measure of freedom
      enjoyed in business, trade, monetary, financial, investment and labour markets. Furthermore, Singapore company
     
formation is straightforward and cost-effective. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2011 Survey, Sin-
      gapore is the world’s easiest place to do business. The survey measures factors including the procedures required
     
for Singapore company registration, time, cost and minimum capital required for company formation.
According to the 2010 Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resources, Singapore offers the highest stand-
      ards of living in Asia. Following Singapore company formation, Healy Consultants helps entrepreneurs obtain Sin-
     
gapore employment and residence visas.

 

•     •   Singapore is an excellent location to register intellectual property (IP), including global trademarks and patents.
     
Singapore is a signatory to international conventions including the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Agreement on
     
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which helps protect against IP rights infringements.
     
Singapore is also a signatory to the Berne Convention and the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright
     
Treaty.

 

•     According to DTZ’s 2010 Global Occupancy Cost Report, Singapore is expected to offer significant savings in of-
      fice costs and occupancy costs compared to other Asian business hubs such as Hong Kong. At -51% Singapore
      showed the largest decrease in occupancy costs in S.E. Asia due to weak demand and new supply dragging down
     
average office rental rates.

 

•     Singapore ranks a positive 20th in the global Monocle Quality of Life Index. The index bases its ranking on factors
      like quality of housing, crime levels and the quality of education and healthcare.

•           Forbes Tax Misery Index 2009 rated Singapore as having the 11th lowest tax misery in the world. The index takes
            into account corporate income, employer social security, personal income, employee social security, wealth tax

and VAT/sales. Forbes suggests the index can be used as a proxy to evaluate whether a country’s policy attracts or repels capital and talent.

•   The Human Development Index (HDI) is an analysis undertaken by the United Nations.   The annual report consid-
     
ers more than a countries income as a judge of development, considering other aspects including poverty, gender,
     
democracy, rights, cultural liberty, globilization, access to water and climate factors. Singapore ranks 23rd out of
      182 nations in the 2009 Human Development Index (HDI) rankings.

Placing an order for the formation of a company

Generally, most foreigners choose to set up a Singapore private limited company as it offers several benefits. Some of the common reasons behind the popularity of the Singapore private limited company structure are as follows:

1.   Since Singapore allows 100% foreign shareholding of a company, most foreign entrepreneurs find it convenient to
      set up a Singapore private limited company and own 100% of the shareholding.

2.   The Singapore private limited company is separate legal entity that is distinct from its members.

3.   The liabilities of the Singapore company do not extend to its members. In the event of debts or liabilities of the
      private limited company, members’ personal assets remain protected.

4.   It is easier for a Singapore company to raise capital compared to other business structures.

5.   Since the business is incorporated as a Singapore private limited company, it qualifies as a local resident entity and
     
can benefit from Singapore’s low tax rates and other tax incentives.

 

Requirements for the Registration of an IBC

 

•   Director: Minimum: one local resident (i.e. Singapore citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or Singapore work
     
pass holder) who is a natural person and above 18 years of age. Maximum: Unlimited local or foreign directors.
      Nominee directors: Allowed. Corporate directors: Not allowed.

•   Secretary: one local resident and qualified. Sole director/shareholder cannot be the company secretary.

•   Shareholder: Minimum: one local or foreign shareholder. Maximum: 50. Corporate shareholders: Allowed. Single
      director/shareholder: Allowed.

•   Paid up Capital: S$1

•   Authorized Capital: None

•   Registered Address: Local commercial or residential address. P.O. Box. not permitted

 

Required Documents to register the company:

 

You will require the following documents and information for registering your Singapore corporation:

 

•   The approved name of your Singapore corporation;

•   A summary of the proposed business activities that your Singapore corporation will engage in;

•   Particulars of the Singapore corporation’s directors, shareholders and company secretary (such as name, address,
     
citizenship, etc.);

•   The corporation’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (MAA);

•   Passport copies or Singapore Identity card (IC) copies of proposed shareholders and directors;

•   Residential address proof of proposed non-resident shareholders and directors; and

•   Details of the parent company if the shareholder is a corporate body.

 

The documents must be in English or officially endorsed English translated versions.

 

Singapore’s aim is to become a major financial hub in the Asia-Pacific region, and judging by its recent performance in the wake of the global recession it appears to be achieving this goal. The city state is striving to encourage international finance and other businesses to locate there, and offers generous tax incentives to companies that locate their global or Asia-Pacific regional headquarters there. Indeed, while many countries are struggling out of recession, Singapore is predicted to achieve growth of between 7% and 9% for 2010.

The island has excellent telecommunications and good transport links. The Port of Singapore is the world’s largest in
terms of total shipping tonnage, transhipment and containers. It is also the world’s third largest petrochemical refiner,
and operates South-East Asia’s most technically advanced and efficient shipbuilding and ship-repair facilities. The
Singapore Registry of Ships has over 3,000 registered vessels totalling more than 29 million gross tonnes, and offers
tax advantages and financial incentives to Singapore-registered vessels under various schemes and funds.

Having reformed its trust laws in 2004, Singapore has stolen a march in the region on rival Hong Kong, which is currently playing catch-up with its own proposed trust law reforms.

Despite meeting the OECD’s tax information exchange agreement requirements, and therefore being removed from the OECD’s grey list, banking secrecy remains enshrined in Singapore law, with heavy penalties for wrongful disclosure of bank clients’ financial details or accounts. Singapore is one of the world’s fastest growing banking centres, with many global banks setting up offices there.

Both individuals and companies can benefit from the various tax incentives on offer, from a 50% tax deduction on investments made by “angel investors” who invest at least SGD100,000 in qualifying start-up businesses, to tax exemption for qualifying non-resident investment funds managed by Singapore-based fund managers.


GENERAL OVERVIEW

Location

South East Asia.

Time zone

GMT + 8 hours.

Population

5,183,700

Capital

Singapore.

Airport(s)

Changi International Airport.

Language

English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.

Currency

Singapore dollars.

Political system

Democracy.

International dialling code

+65.

Legal system

Based on English Common Law.

Centre’s expertise

Financial services, international banking, international holding companies, captive insurance, fund management, trustee services.

TAX

Personal income tax

0-20%.

Corporate income tax

17%.

Exchange restrictions

No.

Tax treaties

Yes

SHARE CAPITAL

Permitted currencies

All currencies.

Minimum authorised capital

No authorised capital.

Minimum share issue

One share of no par value.

TYPE OF ENTITY

Shelf companies

No - but companies can be incorporated within one day.

Timescale for new entities

One day turnaround.

Incorporation fees

$300 (singapore dollars).

Annual fees

No fixed annual fee - nominal fees (S$20) for filling of various returns.

DIRECTORS

Minimum number

One.

Residency requirements

At least one director.

Corporate directors

Not permited.

Meetings/frequency

None, unless required by the company.

SHAREHOLDERS

Disclosure

Yes.

Bearer shares

Not permited.

Minimum number

One.

Public share registry

Yes.

Meetings / frequency

Annual.

ACCOUNTS

Annual return

Yes.

Audit requirements

Yes, unless the company qualifies for audit exemption.

OTHER

Registered office

Singapore.

Domicile issues

Re-domiciliation is not permited.

Company naming restrictions

Names of sensitive nature or similar to statutory boards or government departments are not per­mited. Names indicating activities related to banking, trust and certain activities require licencing or prior approval of certain statutory boards.

Client

We strive to build and maintain trusted client relationships