subpage banner


FY2024 MOF Committee of Supply Debate Speech by Second Minister for Finance Mr Chee Hong Tat

28 Feb 2024

1. Mr Chairman, I thank Members for their questions and suggestions for MOF. 

2. The cuts cover four areas: 

a. First, improving businesses’ ease of transacting with Government and supporting their green transition; 

b. Second, building a strong society, together;

c. Third, strengthening Singapore’s competitive advantage as a trusted hub for trade and enterprise; and

d. Fourth, effective and prudent use of public resources. 

3. I will speak on the first two areas, and Minister Indranee Rajah will cover the other two areas.


4. Sir, Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Mr Derrick Goh and Mr Edward Chia asked how MOF improves businesses' ease of transacting with Government and facilitates their participation in government tenders.

5. Last year, we said that MOF will work with the business community to design Tender Lite, a new category of government tender with fewer and simpler conditions. Over the past year, MOF has been engaging the Association of SMEs (ASME) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to gather inputs from businesses to co-create Tender Lite together.

6. We have incorporated suggestions and inputs from our business leaders, to make government contracts more accessible to small and medium enterprises: 

a. First, MOF will cut the number of contract conditions by about 20% by streamlining the clauses. 

b. Second, we will share risks with businesses, while maintaining public accountability. MOF will remove the requirements for Security Deposits and Liquidated Damages by default for Tender Lite. This will reduce the cost on businesses and the risk they bear when taking part in Tender Lite tenders. 

7. MOF will be launching Tender Lite from April 2024. Tender Lite will cover tenders up to $1 million for general goods and services. With quotations and Tender Lite, around 90% of government contracts will be subject to simpler procurement conditions which will benefit our SMEs.

8. We have also implemented the GeBIZ Supplier File Repository, which enables suppliers to upload their relevant business documents once, for use across multiple bids for all government quotations and tenders. 

9. With the repository, suppliers can save up to 5,000 hours in total, across 100,000 bids submitted annually. 

10. Mr Derrick Goh asked if Government procurement could further support SMEs by giving preference to home-grown companies or to multinational enterprises that partner with local SMEs.

a. As a buyer, the Government needs to ensure prudent use of public funds, by selecting cost-effective solutions that provide value-for-money outcomes. Our procurement rules are designed to achieve this in a fair and transparent way.

b. For many SMEs, Government contracts are an opportunity for them to build credibility and track record, which is helpful when they subsequently bid for private sector and overseas contracts. A point that Mr Goh mentioned too.

c. We are able to achieve this because the buyers know that the Singapore Government awards contracts based on merit via open and fair competition, focusing on quality and value-for-money outcomes.   

d. Our aim is to level the playing field and remove unnecessary obstacles that prevent competitive and innovative suppliers, including our small and new businesses, from participating in and winning government contracts. So this is what we seek to do under Tender Lite and other initiatives.

e. Today, over 80% (by number) and about 40% (by value) of government procurement opportunities have been awarded to SMEs. This is higher than the targets in Australia at 20% by value; and in China, at 30% by value. 

11. We are also helping businesses reduce the cost of transacting with Government through eGuarantee@Gov, which is a simple and secure digital process for businesses and individuals to provide guarantees to government agencies. 

12. Since its launch in 2022, we have tripled the number of participating financial institutions and agencies. Today, we have around 60 participating financial institutions, and 45 agencies, and key regulatory processes across Government have been enhanced as a result.

a. For example, almost all guarantees submitted by businesses registering for import/export permits today are now done through eGuarantee@Gov. This has reduced the time taken for the entire lodgement process of guarantees with Singapore Customs, from 5 working days to just 1 day. Businesses also benefit from not having to incur courier costs to deliver the physical guarantees to Customs.
b. Over 120,000 eGuarantees were issued to date, and eGuarantee@Gov is expected to bring annual cost savings of around $600,000 to businesses, financial institutions, and government agencies. 

c. We target to expand eGuarantee@Gov to all government agencies with guarantee needs by end-2024, which will lead to even greater saving opportunities for the entire ecosystem.

13. Sir, I thank Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Mr Edward Chia, and Mr Derrick Goh for their comments on ensuring prompt payments by the Government to our suppliers. 

a. Today, over 99% of the invoices billed to government agencies adopt 30 days’ or shorter credit terms. 

b. We have committed to keep prompt payment rates above 95%, and have consistently achieved this target. In FY2022, 98% of invoices were paid within their credit terms. 

c. This is comparable with the practices and commitment for prompt payments elsewhere, such as the UK and US.

d. To ensure that we maintain these standards, the Accountant-General’s Department (AGD) monitors the prompt payments indicators regularly across the public sector.   

14. We understand that businesses would prefer faster payments where possible to ease their cash flows. 

a. Since 2021, the Government has been paying ahead of the credit terms for invoices below $5,000, after the receipt of goods or services. 

b. From April 2023 to January 2024, Ministries and Organs of State paid 98% of invoices below $5,000 ahead of their credit terms. More than 85% of such invoices were paid to SMEs, benefitting over 15,000 of them.

c. I would like to correct for the record what was said during MOF’s COS in 2022. Then, we said and I quote, “As of end-January 2022, about 97% of e-invoices below $5,000 were paid within 12 days, ahead of the usual credit term of 30 days.” 

d. Sir, this is incorrect. Instead, it should be: "For the period of September 2020 to January 2022, 97% of invoices below $5,000 were paid ahead of their credit terms. The average time taken to pay these invoices was about 12 days."  

15. Sir, there have been cases of incorrect billing and unsatisfactory delivery of goods and services by businesses, where invoices were rejected. While such cases remain below 10% of all invoices, they do contribute to SMEs’ concerns over cashflow.

16. We aim to do better. The Government will work with our Trade Associations and Chambers, including SBF and ASME, as well as businesses to identify specific areas where we can enhance our processes and enable more businesses to receive payments promptly. Similar to what we have done by working together with our TACs and businesses on Tender Lite.  We will also study best practices from other countries and private sector companies as part of our review.

17. Public agencies have also collaborated with one another to improve services to businesses. One example is the upcoming One-Stop Payroll initiative developed by IRAS, CPF Board and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

18. Currently, employers need to use different systems to report employee income to IRAS for tax purposes, to CPF Board for payment of CPF, and to report updates to employees’ occupational and employment details to MOM.

19. The agencies got together to combine IRAS’ existing Auto Inclusion Scheme seamless filing service, with new filing services from the CPF Board and MOM, as an integrated digital solution offering. One-Stop Payroll will enable businesses to use the same payroll software to submit annual payroll to IRAS and monthly CPF contribution data to CPF Board, and seamlessly update employees’ occupational and employment details under MOM’s Occupational Employment Dataset. 

20. Three birds with one stone.  A win-win outcome that is good for businesses and good for our agencies.  


21. Ms Foo Mee Har asked how MOF is helping companies capture opportunities with the green transition. 

22. The Ministry of Trade & Industry will be addressing this at its COS. The support for businesses will also cover new requirements for sustainability reporting.

23. Let me provide an update on sustainability reporting.  

a. In 2022, ACRA and Singapore Exchange Regulation set up the industry-led Sustainability Reporting Advisory Committee[1]  (SRAC) to advise on a roadmap for climate reporting by companies in Singapore.

b. The SRAC has made its recommendations, and ACRA issued a public consultation last year to gather feedback.

24. The Government has considered the public feedback carefully and will introduce mandatory climate disclosures in a phased approach, starting with listed companies, then larger non-listed companies. 

25. Other jurisdictions, such as the European Union, United Kingdom and New Zealand, have similarly introduced mandatory climate reporting requirements for both listed and non-listed companies. 

a. From FY2025, all listed companies will have to prepare climate reporting based on local prescribed reporting standards, which are aligned to those of the International Sustainability Standards Board. 

b. From FY2027, non-listed companies with annual revenue of at least $1 billion and total assets of at least $500 million will be required to provide climate-related disclosures. 

c. Listed companies and large non-listed companies, as defined above, are also required to obtain external limited assurance on Scope 1 and Scope 2 Greenhouse Gas emissions two years after they start reporting, from FY2027 and FY2029 respectively. 

d. ACRA will review in 2027 whether to extend the requirements to smaller non-listed companies. We have not made a decision on this. ACRA will give companies sufficient notice before introducing any requirements.

26. We recognise that some companies may have started climate reporting using different internationally recognised standards and frameworks, to meet investors’ information needs and requirements of the jurisdictions that they operate in. 

a. For such companies, we will provide a 3-year transitional period during which we will exempt them from the new requirements, if they are using other internationally recognised standards and frameworks.  

27. Mr Mark Lee asked about the timeline for mandating Scope 3 climate reporting disclosures.

a. Sir, while we recognise that Scope 3 disclosure provides a holistic view of companies’ emissions and supports decision making for investors and the supply chain, we will need to take into account readiness of the companies before introducing such requirements. It is better to take a phased approach, which I think Mr Lee will agree.

b. Listed companies will be required to disclose Scope 3 emissions from FY2026, a year after mandatory climate reporting.

c. As for non-listed companies, we recognise that they need more time to build capabilities for Scope 3 disclosures. Hence, we will not require non-listed companies, including large ones, to disclose Scope 3 emissions before FY2029. 

d. We will consider the industry’s readiness and implementation experience from listed companies, before deciding when to require Scope 3 disclosures for non-listed companies.  Companies will be given at least two years notice if the decision is to proceed with Scope 3 disclosures. 

28. The Government is also stepping up efforts to support large companies and SMEs through the green transition, including support to develop sustainability reporting and assurance competencies. MTI will elaborate on these support measures.

29. Ms Jessica Tan and Mr Edward Chia asked about policies to promote greener procurement practices by the Government. 

30. As buyers, our agencies are also encouraging and recognising the development of green capabilities by enterprises through green government procurement.  This helps our businesses build capabilities to meet the demands from consumers and investors for more sustainable products and supply chains.

a. Over the years, the Government has incorporated environmental sustainability considerations into our procurement and continuously reviewed our policies to procure greener solutions. 

b. Starting from FY2024, we will set aside up to 5% of evaluation points for sustainability-related considerations, for larger construction and ICT tenders, which are in addition to the existing high standards that we require for our buildings and ICT equipment. 

c. We have implemented this for selected projects in 2023. For example, LTA set aside additional evaluation points for greener suppliers for a number of their tenders for the Cross Island Line, such as for Clementi Station and King Albert Park Station.

31. It will take time for businesses to adjust to new sustainability considerations, so we are phasing these into government tenders gradually, in consultation with the business community.

a. We are happy to see that companies participating in government tenders are gradually adopting sustainability practices, such as disclosing their emissions and greening their operations and supply chains.

b. Within the Government, we are also developing training programmes to strengthen public officers’ capabilities on sustainability.

c. We are on track to achieve our target to include environmental sustainability considerations in all government procurement by 2028, but further progress also depends on industry readiness and international developments.

d. The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment will provide more details of the industry consultations and pilots.

32. Mr Chairman, in Mandarin please. 



a. 从今年四月起,我们将开始实施Tender Lite,为超过90%的政府合同简化招标条款,协助业者更轻易地参加政府招标活动。

b. 我们也听取了业者的反馈,推出一系列的平台,减轻企业的行政成本,也把交易过程变得更方便。其中就包括数码程序 eGuarantee@Gov, 让企业能快速向政府机构提供银行担保和风险担保,还有一站式的薪资系统 One-Stop Payroll。


a. 在这方面,我们会和企业一起踏上可持续发展的旅程,协助他们掌握与数码和绿色经济相关的新技能,从而提升企业的竞争力。



33. Mr Chairman, I thank members for their questions and suggestions on taxes. Mr Mark Lee asked whether MOF could broaden the definition of qualifying Intellectual Property (or IP) for corporate tax purposes, and whether the IP development tax incentive could be enhanced.

34. The Government supports businesses to leverage IP for their growth through various tax and non-tax measures. 

a. Enterprises may tap on government grant schemes administered by Enterprise Singapore. The Singapore IP Strategy 2030 was also launched three years ago to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global intangible assets and IP hub. MinLaw will elaborate on this. 

b. In parallel, our corporate income tax regime also provides support through various schemes. The scope of qualifying IP for our tax schemes broadly follows the definition used by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, as well as international tax standards.

c. MOF will continue to review our schemes for relevance, with careful consideration of their costs, benefits and consistency with international standards.

35. Mr Pritam Singh asked how MOF considers when to raise the chargeable personal income tax threshold for the lowest tiers, as well as the $1 million threshold for GST registration.

36. The Government has taken steps to address cost-of-living concerns, especially for lower and middle-income Singaporeans. DPM Wong mentioned some of these during the Budget Debate. 

37. On the personal income tax exemption threshold, our $20,000 exemption threshold is higher than jurisdictions like Malaysia, UK and Australia, where thresholds range from around S$1,500 to S$16,000. 

a. The threshold, taken together with our progressive tax rates, tax reliefs and rebates, results in around 40% of all workers not having to pay any income tax. 

b. Among those who do pay personal income tax, 80% of them have an effective tax rate of less than 6%. 

c. The vast majority of income taxes are paid by the top 10% of taxpayers. 

38. We review the personal income tax regime from time to time.  We raised the top marginal tax rates in recent years, and have just announced an increase in the annual income threshold for dependant-related reliefs from $4,000 to $8,000 this year.  

39. MOF will continue to review the regime, including the exemption threshold, and ensure that it remains competitive, progressive and fiscally resilient.

40. As for the GST registration threshold, the current threshold of $1 million was put in place when the GST system was introduced in 1994. 

41. It was set very high to exempt most SMEs from the additional costs necessary to comply with GST collection requirements; around 90% of businesses in 1994 were exempted from having to register from GST.

a. At that time, the UK VAT registration threshold was just £45,000 (about S$75,000), while Australia’s was A$50,000 (S$45,000) when they introduced GST in 2000.

b. The $1 million threshold remains relevant today, as around 90% of businesses continue to be exempted from GST registration. 

c. And, our threshold still remains significantly higher than in most other jurisdictions. For example, UK’s threshold now is £85,000 (about S$145,000), while Australia’s threshold is now A$75,000 (about S$65,000).

d. In addition, around 70% of businesses that newly register for GST today do so voluntarily, even though their turnover falls below the threshold.

e. We will continue to assess the appropriateness of this threshold as part of our regular policy reviews.

42. Mr Dennis Tan asked about extending the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Relief (or FDWLR) to divorced single working fathers.  

a. DPM Wong announced in Budget 2023 that the FDWLR would lapse with effect from the Year of Assessment 2025. 

b. He explained that this was because we already have a migrant domestic worker levy concession, which provides more targeted support for families who need help caring for their dependants, regardless of whether they pay income tax. 

c. This includes single working fathers with young children living in the same household.  They can qualify for the migrant domestic worker levy concession.


43. Sir, Ms Hany Soh asked how we are alleviating cost-of-living pressures and addressing concerns, and Mr Saktiandi Supaat asked how we will support and encourage more people to give back and contribute to our society. 

44. We will continue to implement comprehensive support measures to address the concerns of Singaporeans, and foster an enabling and supportive ecosystem for community giving. This is key to helping us build a strong social compact, and a caring and cohesive society.

45. As DPM Wong explained, we apply monetary policy levers to temper imported inflation, and fiscal policy to further cushion the impact of inflation on Singaporeans. We enhanced the Assurance Package in Budget 2024 to provide near-term relief, as we think this is needed even as inflation moderates. 

46. As the Government deploys these measures, we actively monitor the impact. We are prepared to do more to support Singaporeans should it become necessary. 

47. And we will do so in a manner which is fair, effective and sustainable, for both current and future generations,as Mr Liang Eng Hwa said.

48. We have also been actively strengthening our enabling ecosystem for mutual support, and this helps forge a strong and united society that progresses together as one people.

49. MOF provides various forms of support for community giving.

a. As Mr Saktiandi Supaat pointed out, we provide various tax deductions schemes – for qualifying donations made to Institutions of a Public Character, for corporate volunteering, and for qualifying overseas donations towards emergency humanitarian assistance causes.

b. Beyond tax deductions, we also support charitable giving through government matching grants. For instance, during the challenging COVID-19 period, we enhanced our support for charities through Tote Board’s Enhanced Fundraising Programme which provides dollar-for-dollar matching for eligible donations received by charities. 

c. The programme has supported 480 charities and matched almost $200 million in donations since 2020. 

50. A key ingredient in building a strong society is partnership. When we harness the expertise, experience and passions of diverse stakeholders and combine our efforts to serve our community, this can create a ripple effect and lead to a sustained positive impact on our society. 

51. The Government has brought together the People, Private and Public sectors to support community and ground up initiatives. 

52. This is a key element of Forward Singapore – individuals and corporates stepping up to work together on challenges facing our society and to care for our fellow Singaporeans.

a. Tote Board, together with the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities and the Institute of Policy Studies, launched the Future-Ready Society Impact Fund and Knowledge Partnership last year to provide funding support for piloting innovative, evidence-based solutions that can enhance the resilience of our social ecosystem. 

b. Another initiative called BAGUS Together was launched in January this year by Tote Board, Temasek Foundation and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, to strengthen our groundup ecosystem. 

c. BAGUS Together, which stands for Building All Groundups for Success Together, will rally funders, corporates, and volunteers to support groundups in their journey. It will provide groundups access to critical resources and networks, to enable them to deliver stronger and more sustained community impact. 

d. Groundups play an integral role in meeting the needs of local communities and particular groups that are not easily catered for with broad-based programmes. This is why we want to support them. 

e. And this is where BAGUS Together can come in as the first-stop platform to connect changemakers with a community of skilled volunteers and like-minded partners to share resources, grow capabilities and support one another’s efforts to create a positive impact on the community. Thank you.

[1] The committee, comprising industry experts and sustainability champions, was set up in Jun 2022 to advise on a roadmap for advancing sustainability reporting in Singapore, and provide inputs on the suitability of an international sustainability reporting standard for local adoption.