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Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Finance and Transport at the Tax Academy Signature Conference 2011: Global Developments In Transfer Pricing

25 Jul 2011

Mr Moses Lee, Commissioner of Inland Revenue

Mrs Chia-Tern Huey Min, CEO of the Tax Academy

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is my pleasure to join you this morning at the Tax Academy’s Signature Conference on “Global Developments in Transfer Pricing”. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all delegates and speakers, especially those who have travelled to Singapore for this conference.

Tax Academy’s 5th Anniversary

2. In August this year, the Tax Academy of Singapore will celebrate its 5th Anniversary. Singapore is home to a large number of multi-national enterprises. As business become more globalised, it is vital that tax professionals have the skill sets to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex tax environment. The Academy was set up with the mission to raise the professional competency of the tax community in Singapore, and to develop Singapore into a regional tax knowledge hub. Prior to this, tax training resources were fragmented and smaller tax firms did not have sufficient access to good training programmes.

3. The set up of the Academy - a collaboration between IRAS, the Big Four international accounting firms, ICPAS and the Law Society - came at an opportune time. There was a need for a robust training platform in tax, and for people with the knowledge, experience and ability to go into the breadth and depth of tax issues. The Tax Academy facilitates the growth of tax expertise which adds value to Singapore's business hub role.

4. Since inception, the Academy has made good progress. It has trained about 1800 participants in structured tax training programmes. Another 5000 participants have benefitted from the Academy’s seminars and conferences. It has also fostered strategic tie-ups with established institutions such as the International Tax Center of Leiden University to bring top quality education in international tax to this part of the world. Notably, the Academy is in collaboration with CPA Australia to deliver Singapore Taxation as one of the elective modules in the CPA Program. As a result, Singapore is CPA Australia’s first partner country in the region to provide a localized tax segment.

5. In addition to harnessing the best tax expertise through international collaborations, the academy also serves as a platform for the exchange of tax knowledge among public and private sectors, as well as the academia. A good example is today’s conference, which will see the sharing of knowledge amongst tax experts on transfer pricing regimes and related global developments.

Transforming Singapore into a Leading Global Accountancy Hub - Tax as Specialisation Pathway

6. The prospects for tax professionals in Singapore remain healthy. In December 2008, the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) was set up by the Ministry of Finance. In its report last year, it outlined 10 recommendations to transform Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub for the Asia-Pacific region by 2020. One of the recommendations is to develop specialisation pathways in Internal Audit, Risk Management, Business Valuation and International Tax to further deepen expertise in these areas.

7. The Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council (PSAC), which was established to drive and implement the CDAS recommendations, recognizes the potential for Singapore to be a regional centre of excellence in tax education and a leading regional tax knowledge hub. A Centre of Excellence (CoEx) subcommittee has been set up under the PSAC to develop the identified specialisation pathways and also develop the framework for each pathway. The CDAS report noted that the Tax Academy has taken a leading role in tax training and should continue to champion the development of tax expertise, especially in international tax. As a member of the CoEx subcommittee, the Tax Academy is leading the development of the professional competencies for the tax industry, and it is also the first to launch international tax training programmes.

First Comprehensive Executive Programme for International Tax in Asia - Advanced Management Programme in International Tax

8. In this regard, I am pleased to announce that the Tax Academy will launch a new Advanced Management Programme in International Tax in the first quarter in 2012. This is a collaboration between Tax Academy, the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and the International Tax Center of Leiden University.

9. The Advanced Management Programme will be the first comprehensive and structured executive tax programme in Asia, offering the four core areas on international tax. It aims to draw participants from Singapore and beyond to attend. Therefore, the programme also provides a platform for trainers and participants from the region to gather in Singapore for the exchange of tax knowledge. Needless to say, such a programme supports CDAS vision to transform the Singapore accountancy sector into a leading global accountancy hub for the Asia-Pacific region. I am confident that it will create greater opportunities for tax professionals from the region to benefit from a rigorous international tax programme.


10. On this note, I would like to once again congratulate the Tax Academy of Singapore on its 5th anniversary. It is also my pleasure to declare the Conference on “Global Developments in Transfer Pricing” open. I wish you a very fruitful session ahead. Thank you.