Parliament Shorts: Told not to call, but they did

Told not to call, but they did 

The Personal Data Protection Commission has received about 9,700 valid complaints against some 1,500 companies which flouted Do-Not-Call (DNC) rules.

Most of these companies are from the property, retail and financial sectors, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

He said most of them did not understand the DNC rules, which came into effect two years ago and are fairly new. Many of the complaints also involved one-off breaches.

The commission issued advisory notices and warnings to about 3,000 organisations.

The commission also received about 26,500 complaints about messages related to illegal activities such as unlicensed moneylending and illegal gambling, and referred them to the police, he added.

More privacy in shared flats

The Housing Board has put in partitions or compartments in some of its new public rental flats to provide more privacy for those who co-rent the flats under the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS).

The partitions create two sleeping areas in the one-room flats, each with its own window, said Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon. Each area can fit a single bed.

There are 152 such flats in Sengkang, Yishun and Sembawang, and 17 more are being built.

A further 348 one-room flats, also being built, will have compartments for each tenant. The first 15 units will be in Tampines, and will be released for rent in the third quarter of the year.

Of the 2,184 public rental applications last year, 398 or 18 per cent were under the JSS.

NSmen 'do better' with new test 

Operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) have been performing better in the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) since the change in assessment format last April.

NSmen did an average of five more sit-ups and ran 16 seconds faster in the 2.4km run, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said, in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

Sit-ups and the 2.4km run were retained from the old test.

About three out of 10 NSmen now score the Gold and Silver awards, a 4 per cent improvement. Another 30 per cent are able to achieve a Pass with Incentive, 9 per cent more than before.

Dr Ng said the results are encouraging and show that the new IPPT format has motivated NSmen to train harder and perform better.

GST, income tax Bills passed 

Parliament passed the GST (Amendment) Bill yesterday, allowing the Comptroller of GST to bar people from leaving Singapore if they are found to have made wrongful claims for goods and services tax (GST) refunds.

GST refunds are meant for eligible tourists but some people, such as permanent residents and foreigners on work permits, have also made claims.

The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill was also passed yesterday. This gives small and medium-sized enterprises more support under the Mergers & Acquisitions scheme, which has been extended until March 2020.

Another change grants tax exemption on withdrawals of up to $400,000 from the Supplementary Retirement Scheme on the death or terminal illness of the member.

New Bills introduced 

Stores selling tobacco products will no longer be allowed to display them, under proposed changes to the law.

The Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) (Amendment) Bill - one of three Bills introduced yesterday - will extend the ban on the promotion of goods such as cigarettes. It will prohibit the advertising of tobacco products on all media, including the Internet.

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill will allow people who lose their mental ability to rely on professionals to make decisions for them.

The Economic Expansion Incentives (Relief from Income Tax) (Amendment) Bill, meanwhile, seeks to update the law regarding tax reliefs for companies.

It will remove obsolete tax assessment methods and end certain tax incentive schemes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'More privacy in shared flats NSmen 'do better' with new test GST, income tax Bills passed New Bills introduced Told not to call, but they did ParliamentShorts'. Print Edition | Subscribe