EMA chief to take over as Iras head from Feb 1

Mr Ng Wai Choong (left) will take over as Iras head from Mr Tan Tee How, who is retiring after 34 years in public service.
Mr Ng Wai Choong (above) will take over as Iras head from Mr Tan Tee How, who is retiring after 34 years in public service.

Mr Ng Wai Choong will be the new Commissioner of Inland Revenue and chief executive of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) from Feb 1.

The 52-year-old, currently the chief executive at the Energy Market Authority (EMA), will take over from Mr Tan Tee How, who is retiring after 34 years in public service.

Mr Tan, 58, has been Iras head since Dec 1, 2014.

In that time, he led and participated actively in international tax forums to keep Singapore abreast of global tax issues and to develop policies to ensure its competitiveness, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a statement yesterday.

It paid tribute to Mr Tan, noting how he worked to make sure Iras was well positioned amid a time of disruptive innovation.

He had, for instance, led the charge in getting Iras to tap technology so that it could keep the cost of tax administration low and voluntary compliance high. This transformation, it added, made use of analytics, design and digitalisation to redefine the user experience for taxpayers, tax intermediaries and staff.

The ministry said Iras had also adopted an outside-in approach to understand the needs of taxpayers. It works with communities and uses new technology to design systems to meet these needs, MOF added.

Iras continues to take firm actions against those who fail to pay taxes, the ministry said.

Mr Tan started his Administrative Service career in the MOF in 1983, and was posted to the Ministry of National Development five years later.

Thereafter he held various key appointments, including Controller of Immigration at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and principal private secretary to then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. He became Permanent Secretary of MHA from 2011 to 2014.

Mr Tan told Iras staff in an e-mail that he could not have wished for a better job to cap his 34-year career.

"Iras embodies the spirit of purpose, commitment and excellence that has made our public service among the best in the world," he said, adding that he had no doubt they would give the same strong support he received to Mr Ng.

His successor is no stranger to Iras, he noted, having interacted closely with many staff there in his capacity as deputy secretary at MOF in the past and Iras board member since last year.

Mr Ng joined the Administrative Service in 1991, and took on his current role of EMA chief executive in April 2015. He was previously deputy secretary (policy) at MOF from April 2007 to March 2015, where he oversaw government revenue, expenditure and investment policies. He was deputy secretary (industry) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry from April 2004 to 2007, and chief executive of the Competition Commission of Singapore from January 2005 to April 2006.

The leadership transition at Iras comes at a time when Singapore is discussing tax changes, and this looks set to be a key issue for Mr Ng when he takes over.

The new appointment means a series of top-level changes in the public service, with Mr Ng relinquishing his post at EMA, as well as his appointment as Returning Officer for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mr Ngiam Shih Chun, 44, Deputy Secretary (Industry) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will take over as EMA chief executive.

The new returning officer will be Mr Tan Meng Dui, Deputy Secretary (Development) at the Ministry of National Development.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2017, with the headline 'EMA chief to take over as Iras head from Feb 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe