Allowing self-regulation has reduced use of accountants

Most businesses in Singapore do not engage accountants because they do not want to bear the cost of hiring professionals (Most doctors act on advice of consultants and accountants; Oct 22).

Instead, they would rather hire service providers, who are not qualified and charge low prices, because of the bottom-of-the-barrel prices they want to enjoy. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge that these providers are not qualified.

This is not the fault of the doctors and their fellow businessmen.

The Government, in responding to the gripes of businesses that compliance costs are too high, has democratised compliance requirements by allowing self-regulation.

This has been done by cutting regulations such as removing the requirement for an audit, allowing unqualified persons to e-file annual returns to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) and allowing unqualified persons to prepare accounting and tax returns to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) and Acra.

In most developed economies, doctors would hire qualified tax accountants or advisers to do their tax returns, accountants to prepare their financial statements and bookkeepers to prepare the books of the company. However, this is not so in Singapore.

The Government reasons that serious businesses would hire qualified people to assist them. However, most businesses are profit-driven and would rather hire unqualified people to assist them as they are cheaper.

I suggest that doctors and businesses in Singapore ask for the credentials of the service providers they hire and ensure that they are qualified in Singapore.

Oh Thiam Yeng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2018, with the headline 'Allowing self-regulation has reduced use of accountants'. Print Edition | Subscribe