Singapore’s ACRA Enhances Online Services During COVID-19 Lockdown
- Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has provided several measures to improve its online services during the lockdown.
- One of these measures has been to extend the deadline for holding the general shareholders meeting and filing of annual returns.
- ACRA has also enhanced its BizFile online form to reduce the time required for applicants to enter their data.
Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has enhanced its online services amid the country’s month-long lockdown.
ACRA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance whose role is to regulate business entities, public accountants, and corporate service providers in Singapore.On April 3, 2020, the government introduced significantly stricter social and physical distancing measures labelled the ‘circuit breaker’ until May 4, 2020. Under these measures, residents are only allowed to leave their homes for groceries and healthcare purposes and are obligated to wear face masks.
Essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, food retailers, wholesale markets, and wet markets have been allowed to remain open. Restaurants, coffee shops, and other food outlets limited to takeout services. The government has also ordered businesses that cannot operate through telecommuting platforms to suspend operations until the lockdown ends.
Supporting businesses during COVID-19
During the circuit breaker period, ACRA will close its physical service counters and move its services online. Furthermore, it has provided new guidelines on businesses looking to hold their annual general shareholder meetings (AGMs), as well as filing annual returns.
The organization has also improved its BizFile e-Services.
Extension deadline for general shareholder meetings and annual returns
ACRA has extended the deadline for companies for holding their AGMs. Holding an AGM is compulsory for Singapore-based businesses usually at the end of the financial year.
During the AGM, a company will present its financial statement to shareholders in addition to balance sheets, audit reports, and the Director’s report. Publicly listed companies can hold their AGMs four months after the financial year-end whereas private companies can do so six months after their financial year-end.
In light of COVID-19, ACRA has granted a 60-day extension to listed and non-listed companies whose AGMs fall between April 16 to July 31, 2020. The 60-day period also covers the filing of annual returns for the period from May 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.
Companies whose AGMs are due between April 1 to 15, 2020 will also have the dates extended by 60 days.
Temporary closure of ACRA service counters
ACRA has temporarily closed its service counters at its office, Revenue House. ACRA has encouraged all customers to utilize its online services through its website. Additionally, the help desk is still operational from 9am to 6pm, excluding public holidays at 6248 6028.
Enhancing the capacity of BizFile
As part of improving its efforts to improve customer experience, ACRA has made enhancements to the e-forms on BizFile.
BizFile is the online filing system that enables the public to access over 400 electronic services. These are:
- Application for New Company Name;
- Incorporation of Local Company;
- Registration of Amalgamation;
- Application for New Foreign Company Name;
- Registration of Branch of Foreign Company;
- Application for a New Business Name;
- Application to Register Person(s) and Business Name;
- Application for a New LLP Name;
- Application to Register a New LLP;
- Application for a New LP Name;
- Application to Register a New LP;
- Application for Approval of Public Accounting Firm;
- Name Application for Public Accounting Firm; and
- Transfer of Registration (Re-domiciliation).
Under the new changes, filers will not have to input certain key bio-data for some position holders as ACRA can directly attain this information from other government agencies. ACRA hopes this will reduce the time users will need to fill up the e-forms.