Singtel is Singapore's best governed and most transparent company for 2nd year running

Customers walk out of a Singtel shop at a mall in Singapore on May 11, 2016.
Customers walk out of a Singtel shop at a mall in Singapore on May 11, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singtel is Singapore's most well-governed and transparent company for the second year running, under an enhanced index of Singapore's corporate governance standards.

The Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI) is an enhanced version of the Governance and Transparency Index (GTI), began in 2009.

This year, the Singapore Institute of Directors joined CPA Australia, NUS Business School's Centre of Governance, Institutions and Organisations for the first time in jointly publishing the SGTI.

The SGTI has a different set of categories from the GTI, including a new section on stakeholder engagement, containing questions addressing their rights.

Singtel topped an index of 631 companies, improving its score by six points from last year because of its robust disclosure of board responsibilities, exact executive renumeration as well as new sections of stakeholder engagement. It scored 124 points out of 143.

DBS moved up two spots to second place this year while Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX), CapitaLand and Keppel Corp took the third, fourth and fifth spots respectively.

While the average score improved to 49.7 points this year, up from 47.6 points last year, the improvement in score has slowed.

One area flagged for further improvement that was discussed by forum participants was the disclosure of interested party transactions policy. Only 31.2 per cent  of companies disclosed this.

A panel of experts commented that the regulations in this area were adequate, but company practices lagged in implementation. The speakers included Mr William Liem, chief executive of Tuan Sing Holdings; Mr John Lim, chairman of Boustead Projects; Mr Tan Boon Gin, chief regulatory officer of Singapore Exchange; and Mr Hugh Young, managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management Asia.

They added that this was an area that could be improved without increasing costs significantly, and that it would be good practice for independent directors to disclose their interested party transactions, regardless of value.

The SGTI ranked a total of 631 SGX-listed companies which released their annual reports by May 31 this year.

One of the architects of the index, NUS Associate Professor Lawrence Loh said that there was an "elephant in the room" as the 43 Reits and business trusts were not included this year.

He announced that they would assess corporate governance practices and disclosures of Reits and business trusts next year.