Forum: Funeral industry needs fundamental reforms

In a photo from Iras raids conducted on Sept 17, 2019, manual methods of accounting and record-keeping can be seen in the funeral parlour near coffins.
In a photo from Iras raids conducted on Sept 17, 2019, manual methods of accounting and record-keeping can be seen in the funeral parlour near coffins.PHOTO: IRAS

It should concern the public that the funeral industry was flagged by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore for poor record-keeping practices (Taxman recovers $175m in GST, penalties from Jan-Sept, Oct 14).

The industry is not ready for Singapore's transition to a smart nation.

The Association of Funeral Directors should help members digitalise their operations and strengthen their internal controls.

Funeral service providers need to exercise more oversight and due diligence to comply with current regulations.

An industrywide code of conduct to raise the level of professionalism appears to be lacking, and practices vary greatly from company to company.

Some operators that claim to provide funeral-related services are merely name-card holders without full-time staff.

As such, the funeral industry needs to see some fundamental reforms.

The Government and the relevant stakeholders should review the industry's operations and identify consumers' key requirements.

The review should also examine the adequacy of current public-health-related laws.

A comprehensive piece of legislation will eliminate non-compliant companies and go a long way towards consolidating the funeral services market and raise its standards.

Chen Jiaxi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2019, with the headline 'Funeral industry needs fundamental reforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe