Second Reading Speech By The Senior Minister Of State For Finance, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, On The Business Registration (Amendment) Bill, 19 Jan 0919 Jan 2009
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time".
2. Sir, this Bill seeks to amend the Business Registration Act to allow the Registrar to:
(a) register certain professionals or professional firms which are currently exempted from registration;
(b) facilitate the enforcement of injunctions granted under the Trade Marks Act; and
(c) to make certain miscellaneous and technical amendments.
3. The Business Registration Act provides the basic regulatory framework for unincorporated businesses such as sole proprietorships and partnerships. The proposed amendments in the Bill will update the legislation, and harmonise certain provisions of the Business Registration Act with the equivalent provisions in the Companies Act.
4. Sir, I shall now go on to highlight the main amendments proposed in the Bill.
Registration of Professionals and Professional Firms
5. Clause 3 of the Bill amends section 4 of the Business Registration Act to empower the Minister to make regulations to prescribe any person or class of persons to which the exemption under section 4(1)(g) will not apply.
6. Currently, section 4(1)(g) exempts professionals and professional firms from registering under the Business Registration Act if they carry on business which under the provisions of law can be exercised only by those who possess certain qualifications prescribed by law. Examples of such professional businesses include law firms, doctors and architects. However, professional practices set up as corporations or limited liability partnerships are required to register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) under the Companies Act and Limited Liability Partnerships Act respectively.
7. With this amendment, professional practices that are registered as businesses (sole-proprietorships or partnerships) will be required to register with the Registrar, if so prescribed by the Minister. This will facilitate a consistent treatment for professional practices across the various legislations.
Enforcement of injunctions granted under the Trade Marks Act
8. In 2005, the Companies Act was amended to allow the Registrar to direct a company to change its name if the use of the name has been restrained by an injunction granted under the Trade Marks Act. Clause 4 of the Bill amends section 13 of the Business Registration Act to allow the Registrar to do likewise for business names, bringing the Business Registration Act in line with the Companies Act.
9. Clause 6 repeals and re-enacts section 29 of the Business Registration Act such that the sum to be collected for compoundable offences will not exceed half of the amount of the maximum fine that is prescribed for the offence, or $5000, whichever is the lower. This is to align the section with the equivalent provisions for the composition of offences in the Limited Liability Partnerships Act and the new Limited Partnerships Act. The rest of the amendments are of a technical nature.
10. Mr Speaker, Sir, these amendments will bring the Business Registration Act in line with other existing legislation such as the Companies Act. This is consistent with our policy to provide a more efficient means of registering businesses and a more conducive regulatory environment for businesses.
11. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move.