Second Reading Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Finance and Transport on the Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2008, at The Parliament, 23 Jan 200823 Jan 2008
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, "That the Bill now be read a second time".
2. The Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2008 seeks to expressly empower the collection of late payment charges and interest for the late payment of regulated fees, charges and taxes payable under several different legislations. These amendments will regularise the collection of charges and interest.
3. Let me first explain the background and rationale for these amendments.
4. As a matter of policy, the Government imposes late payment charges and interest for all late payments of fees, charges and taxes. The reason is twofold.
5. First, late payments of fees, charges and taxes result in additional costs to Government. Besides the opportunity cost of money due to late collections, the Government also incurs administrative costs in chasing arrears. These additional costs should rightly be borne by the late payers, rather than by the public through general taxation.
6. Second, without late payment charges and interest, there would be no incentive for people to pay their fees, charges and taxes on time.
7. For these reasons, it is common in both the private sector and government administrations in other countries to levy late payment charges and interest.
8. Specific legal provisions in the relevant legislations are required to expressly empower relevant Government agencies to collect late payment charges and interest. For completeness, these amendments will expressly provide for such collections under the fourteen Acts listed in clauses 2 to 5, and clauses 7 to 16 of the Bill.
9. Clauses 2 to 5, and clauses 7 to 16 of the Bill will amend the fourteen Acts to specifically enable the agencies that are responsible for the fees to collect late payment charges and interest on these fees.
10. In addition to these fourteen Acts, clause 6 of the Bill will amend the Interpretation Act such that the authority to provide for fees and charges in subsidiary legislation will also be able to impose and prescribe the interest, charges and penalties for late payment of the fees and charges. This will apply to all current and future cases where fees and charges are provided for and collected.
11. The collection of late payment charges and interest had been the right thing to do; hence, the Bill provides for the validation of all past collections of late payment charges and interest that fall under the fourteen Acts.
12. Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move.