New GoBusiness portal will simplify licensing process for F&B businesses

The GoBusiness Licensing Portal will shorten the often laborious process by up to 14 days.
The GoBusiness Licensing Portal will shorten the often laborious process by up to 14 days.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MTIOFSINGAPORE/YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - A new online service will slash the amount of red tape food and beverage (F&B) businesses have to wade through to secure licences for opening new shops or restaurants.

The GoBusiness Licensing Portal will shorten the often laborious process by up to 14 days, with business owners no longer needing to spend time applying separately for various licences across multiple government agencies.

The portal, which goes live on Oct 31, identifies what licences are needed by an online questionnaire and then helps applicants navigate the process with a step-by-step guide.

Business owners now have to fill in up to 845 data fields across 14 forms required by the different agencies depending on factors such as whether they intend to sell alcohol or provide live entertainment.

This will be reduced to one form and no more than 90 data fields on the new portal.

Application data will be sent to the relevant agencies concurrently where possible, further saving time.

The portal was announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat on the sidelines of the Business Times SME Seminar at Singapore Polytechnic on Tuesday (Oct 1).

"The portal is actually a review exercise to look at our licensing processes from the point of view of businesses and companies and make (the processes) simpler, better and faster," said Mr Chee.

"We started with food because it's a sector which has many players and also the rules are quite complex. I'm happy with the outcome and now it's about how we can extend this same approach to other areas."

The team that developed the portal will now tackle the retail and environmental services sectors, which also have many players and complex regulatory requirements.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore joined forces to develop the portal.

 

Feedback was gathered from 41 F&B businesses and 16 government agencies to find out what improvements were most needed.

Halal restaurant Al Malik Eating House was among the businesses that helped test the portal.

Director Ameen Rahubudeen said figuring out what licences he needed when trying to set up his restaurant was a time-consuming and often confusing process as the information was spread out across different government agency websites.

There were times when he applied for a particular licence only to find that there were requirements he had not been aware of, forcing him to reapply.

"The list of licences and requirements is very difficult to understand for first-time food business owners. I ended up having to go to friends and personal contacts for help," said Mr Ameen, who opened his eatery six months ago.

"What I really like about the portal is that it can determine what kind of business I am running and what licences I need. That makes the process very clear."