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Second Reading Opening Speech by Senior Minister of State For Finance, Mr Chee Hong Tat, on the Statutes (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, at The Parliament, 9 January 2024

09 Jan 2024
1     Mr. Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for Finance, I beg to move, “that the Bill be now read a second time.”


2     Sir, this Bill proposes amendments to several Acts, which are technical in nature. Let me take Members through the key amendments.

Amendment to Business Names Registration Act 2014

3     Clause 2(b) of the Bill amends section 24(1) of the Business Names Registration Act 2014, to allow the Registrar of Business Names to restore a registration that has been cancelled because the person failed to make Medisave contributions required under section 9A of the Central Provident Fund Act 1953. This will speed up the process for restoring business name registrations, for example, where the business owner has already rectified the non-compliance, without the need to lodge a statutory appeal to the Minister. 

Amendments to Property Tax Act 1960

4     Next, on the Property Tax Act 1960, or the PTA, there are two groups of amendments. 

5     First, clauses 6(a) and (b) of the Bill amend sections 20A(2) and 22(2) of the PTA, to confer the Chief Assessor and the Comptroller of Property Tax with the discretion to admit late objections to the valuation list and to property tax respectively. This is in line with the respective Comptrollers’ powers to admit late objections under other tax legislation.

6     The second group of amendments in clauses 6(c) to (j) of the Bill amend the PTA to update and streamline provisions relating to the Valuation Review Board, or VRB, which is a tribunal under the PTA that hears and adjudicates property tax-related disputes between taxpayers, and the Comptroller or the Chief Assessor. These amendments are aligned with those already made under the Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2022 to the Income Tax Board of Review and the Goods and Services Tax Board of Review.

7     The amendments to the VRB provisions include removing outdated references, such as the requirement to lodge the notice of appeal in “duplicate”, which is no longer relevant where documents are sent digitally. The amendments also move various Act-level procedural provisions to subsidiary legislation and clarify the Minister’s regulation-making powers on VRB appeals, as well as case management powers of the VRB and the Chairperson.

8     In addition, the amendments will confer a discretion on the Chairperson to convene a one-member coram to adjudicate VRB hearings, instead of the usual three-member coram. In deciding whether or not to convene a one-member coram, the Chairperson will consider the parties’ submissions, as well as the facts and circumstances of the case. Taken together, these amendments will align the VRB provisions with other tax Boards of Review provisions to allow greater flexibility and ensure that tax appeals are resolved in a more timely and efficient manner.     

9     Mr Deputy Speaker, I beg to move.