Setting Up a Business in Singapore
- Written by Christine Flor
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Singapore runs on a parliamentary democratic system, allowing the country a stable environment for businesses to operate. Also, businessmen will like the government’s efficient and excellent manner of functioning as it minimises bureaucratic delays.
ENTERPRISE SUPPORT SCHEMES
The government has been hard at work crafting a pro-business environment in Singapore with favourable tax laws, incentives and funding for start-up businesses. SPRING Singapore is the enterprise development agency for growing innovative companies and fostering a competitive SME sector. For example, schemes such as the Local Enterprise Finance Scheme (LEFS) offer entrepreneurs a boost for their start-up businesses. For more information, look up www.spring.gov.sg.
An understanding of the economic climate of Singapore is vital to planning for your business. Indicators important to the success of your business need to be considered. Singapore boasts of a competitive interest rate and low inflation environment. Other statistics such as national income and the labour market can be found at the Department of Statistics, www.singstat.gov.sg.
With a literacy rate of about 96.1 per cent, Singapore’s demographics and psychographics are quite suitable for providing a skilled workforce to new and existing businesses. Close to three in ten residents in the labour force in 2011 were degree holders – a 17 per cent increase since 2001. Women form an active part of the workforce with 57 per cent employed full-time —73 per cent of women ages 25 to 54 were working in 2011. A trained English speaking workforce makes Singapore the perfect choice for setting up a regional headquarters.
Singapore is technologically advanced, ranking as the third most wired nation and having 99 per cent of its population reachable by broadband network. In fact, the World Economic Forum ranked the country amongst the top 10 globally for network readiness. Entrepreneurs can easily tap on the technological infrastructure to assist them in business start-ups. In Singapore, the IT infrastructure is monitored by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).
LICENSING AND REGISTRATION
For foreigners who are not permanent residents of Singapore but wish to start their own business, an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass), which is an employment pass for foreign entrepreneurs, must be applied for at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). For more information and enquiries on the EntrePass, visit the MOM website at www.mom.gov.sg.
Starting up certain businesses such as banks, insurance companies and stockbroker firms also requires obtaining a licence from the government. One must first register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Business Registration is simple and efficient with e-filing services. If the authorised share capital of a company is S$0.5 million or more, the foreign company must become a statutory member of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). Details can be found at www.sbf.org.sg and www.acra.gov.sg.