Among the many discussions throughout this year on how Post-Brexit United Kingdom (UK) would look like, one of the propositions was to consider a Singapore-model, or a ‘Singapore-on-Thames’. Notwithstanding the debates on this model, the bigger questions is can Singapore be the answer to your company seeking new opportunities outside of UK?
We share some key considerations for you as we look towards the new landscape.
As a business, keeping fiscal cost down is a key factor and Singapore has always been touted as a tax haven, for both corporates and individuals.
Corporate Tax remains low compared to the region and worldwide, and coupled with Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAs) for manpower that moves to Singapore from the UK as a result of a branch or headquarters being set up in Singapore, there is a further fiscal intensive for individual employees.
There are some key differences in Singapore that allows it to keep a lower tax jurisdiction. For instance, social-welfare programmes in Singapore are not as voluminous as the UK, with Singapore instead offering its residents various tools and resources to tap on should they fall on hard times. Also, the overall fiscal approach between Singapore and the UK differs. However, from a business perspective it is conducive for businesses looking to set up a base in Singapore.
Light-touch Regulatory Regime
One of the advantages of moving away from the EU regime is UK’s independence from specific EU regulations. Similarly, Singapore has carved out its own set of unique laws and the economic regulatory regime is light-touch and pro-business. Coupled with the move for less bureaucracy and the drive to respond to the business community as one public service, with for instance the ‘No-wrong-door’ policy, it is easier to navigate within the regulatory environment compared to many countries in the region or worldwide. Indeed there are some differences in terms of social regulatory policies, corporal punishment, approach to immigration to name a few. However, both the UK and Singapore operating on the principles of Rule of Law, have many underlying similarities in their approach to regulations.
Support for Capability and Manpower Development
There are diverse resources for businesses moving to Singapore, including those by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG). True to the unification of public service outlined above, all government agencies, and private organisations interested in working with businesses moving to Singapore, work together to ensure a smooth transition. There are key resources and funding especially if the business moving to Singapore is looking to invest in capability development, research and development, fixed asset outlay, capital outlay, moving its global or regional headquarters to Singapore, and hiring and developing manpower locally. The last factor could be a key consideration, instead of working with EU settlement regulations, to consider manpower in Singapore that is diverse and multicultural and has already met the immigration requirements to stay in Singapore and work. In addition, similar to the UK where the local governments for each region support businesses locally, Singapore has Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)-Centres set up across the island to provide tailored support. Together with organisations such as the British Chamber of Commerce, and us for on-the-ground support, moving your business to Singapore can be a seamless process.