The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) invite the public to provide feedback on the Business Names Registration (BNR) Bill. The public consultation exercise will run from 2 Jun to 18 Jun 2014.
2. Enacted in 1974, the Business Registration (BR) Act provides for the registration of persons carrying on business in Singapore, so as to enable identification of the person(s) acting behind a business name. The last significant review of the BR Act was in 2004. To ensure that the BR Act remains relevant to the present day business environment, ACRA has done a comprehensive review of the Act.
3. As part of the review, ACRA conducted a public consultation on the existing framework in Oct 2010, and held dialogue sessions with selected stakeholders to discuss its preliminary recommendations in Nov 2011. Concurrently, similar legislation in other jurisdictions was also considered. A report setting out a summary of the feedback received and our response is at Annex A.
Draft Business Names Registration (BNR) Bill
4. The BNR Bill seeks to repeal the BR Act and re-enact it with amendments as the Business Names Registration Act. The change of name is intended to more accurately reflect the scope of the legislation. Thirty amendments to the BR Act have been proposed to simplify the process for business names registration and reduce regulatory burden on business owners.
5. In addition, ACRA is also taking the opportunity to align the provisions in the new BNR Bill with similar draft provisions that are being introduced in other ACRA-administered Acts, such as the ACRA Act and Companies Act.
6. A table setting out the amendments corresponding to ACRA’s recommendations, where applicable, is at Annex B. The key policy changes are to:
a) exempt from registration, individuals who carry on business in their own names;
b) offer the option to register or renew business names for a period of one year, or three years to individuals who have fully paid their Medisave, or stay on a regular instalment plan with good Medisave contribution records. Applicants who are starting a business for the first time will also be given the option to register their business names for one or three years;
c) extend the civil and criminal penalty regime for carrying on a business under a business name without registration or updating changes of particulars with ACRA to other situations, namely (i) after ACRA has cancelled the registration or (ii) the registrant has notified ACRA that he has ceased business; and
d) revise the maximum penalties to align with the penalties imposed for equivalent offences in other ACRA-administered Acts, such as the ACRA Act and Companies Act.
7. More information on the key policy changes are at Annex C. Annex D contains a list of the proposed revisions to the maximum penalties for offences under the draft BNR Bill. A copy of the draft Bill is at Annex E.
Scope of Public Consultation
8. In drafting the recommendations into legislative amendments, practical considerations, such as operational and implementation issues, were taken into account. The public is invited to comment on the drafting of the recommendations in the draft Bill, as well as any operational and implementation issues that may arise from the amendments.
Public Consultation Details
9. The public can access the consultation documents on MOF’s website (www.mof.gov.sg), ACRA’s website (www.acra.gov.sg) and the REACH consultation portal (www.reach.gov.sg). Written comments can be submitted to:
Ministry of Finance
Economic Programmes Directorate
100 High Street
#10-01, The Treasury
Fax: 6337 4134
Email: mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org(preferred mode)
10. MOF and ACRA will publish a summary of the comments received, together with our responses, later this year. The summary will not disclose the identity of respondents, and will not separately address or acknowledge every comment received.
MINISTRY OF FINANCE
ACCOUNTING AND CORPORATE REGULATORY AUTHORITY
2 Jun 2014
 ACRA had considered similar legislation in other jurisdictions, namely Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom (UK). For instance, the Australian Business Names Registration Act was passed by Parliament on 13 Oct 2011 and took effect on 28 May 2012.
 This group of applicants could have Medisave records from when they were employees. However, they would not have prior Medisave records as self-employed persons (SEP) if they are registering with ACRA to start a business for the first time.