Accounting giant quick to submit Budget wish list

PwC's suggestions include building S'porean core and supporting SMEs

This article was first published on Dec 1, 2014

It may still be a few months before Budget Day but members of the business and finance community are already fine-tuning and submitting their wish lists.

First out the gate among the Big Four accounting firms is PwC, which has published a list of suggestions aimed at building a Singaporean core, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and boosting the country's competitiveness, among other things.

Its recommendations include providing companies with incentives to send their local staff for overseas training, in order to build a pipeline of Singaporean talent with international experience.

"We need to encourage businesses to build a larger base of Singapore talents with the skill sets needed to run global businesses from here," the firm wrote in its wish list.

"In certain industries, such as financial services, no amount of training can substitute the breadth of experience and exposure to be gained from working in an international hub such as London or New York," it said.

The Government, it suggested, could offer incentives or grants to subsidise these programmes.

Multinationals could be encouraged to introduce these secondment programmes when they are applying for Singapore tax incentives, PwC added.

It noted that the Government has announced it will introduce incentives in next year's Budget to support companies that voluntarily re-employ their older workers up to the age of 67.

These could include giving SMEs that employ senior citizens who are Singaporeans or permanent residents enhanced deductions for their salary costs, PwC said.

The firm also offered several suggestions to help Singaporeans plan for their health-care and retirement needs. For example, it said, the Government could encourage more Singaporeans to contribute to the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) by removing the contribution cap or introducing an enhanced tax deduction for SRS contributions.

The SRS is a voluntary retirement savings programme that complements the Central Provident Fund system.

PwC added that penalties for incorrect filing of tax returns can be quite harsh even if a mistake is made due to human error, without ill intent. "As an alternative, perhaps a late-payment interest could be charged on the shortfall in tax collected as a result of such errors or mistakes," the firm said.

PwC has submitted its full wish list to the Ministry of Finance and Monetary Authority of Singapore.