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Welcome Address by ISCA Vice President Ms Yvonne Chan for ISCA Budget and Tax Conference 2022 on 10 March 2022

Distinguished speakers and panelists
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon to all of you and let me extend a warm welcome to the ISCA Budget and Tax Conference 2022. 

This conference is held after the Singapore Budget Announcement every year. It is a platform for professionals and experts to discuss the implications arising from the 2022 Budget proposals and update on corporate and individual tax developments as well as the economic outlook. There will also be an interactive Question and Answer session for participants to pose questions about the Budget via the Pigeonhole software.   It may be more challenging for us to interact with one another when we can’t meet physically, but I encourage everyone to participate by asking questions or voting for the questions through Pigeonhole. 

Budget 2022 is entitled Charting Our New Way Forward Together. It sets out key changes Singapore must make to invest in new capabilities, advance our green transition; renew and strengthen our social compact; and develop a fairer and more resilient tax structure.

To advance our green transition, the government announced a slew of initiatives to accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy. These underscore Singapore’s commitment towards tackling climate change and championing sustainability. 

So what is sustainbility? Doing business sustainably is an imperative. Beyond the need to meet the expectations of employees, conscious consumers who knows about this area and investors, it is about ensuring the survival of our planet. It is preserving the environment. Governments around the world have adopted sustainable development goals and are ramping up regulation to decarbonise their economies. 

Companies which have adopted sustainability initiatives have found that doing so can lead to reduced costs and new opportunities for growth and profitability. Some companies have even adopted a transformational strategy, placing sustainability at the heart of their purpose. However, it is understandable that for many SMEs, business sustenance amid the pandemic is their priority and hence, sustainability is not in focus. Nevertheless, it is important for all businesses to realise that sustainability is part of the new normal and needs to be factored in, regardless.  

In helping businesses go green, the finance function has a central role to play. Finance teams are used to collecting data from various sources to derive insights.  This is vital to their sensemaking and decision-making as they navigate the opportunities and avoid threats.   

Accountancy professionals must be equipped to prepare sustainability reporting as more organisations adopt environmental, social and financial performance metrics and represents tracking of non-financial indicators. Similarly, auditors must have the skills to verify such information. 

Beyond collecting, analysing and reporting sustainability-related information, accountants and auditors can be strategic advisors to help embed sustainability into a company’s strategy, decision making and reporting processes.

With the establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), it is clear that accountancy professionals have a vital role in leading the change on the sustainability push and make a difference in creating a sustainable future.

On the sustainability agenda, ISCA is here to help. As the national accountancy body, ISCA is also doing our part to support the profession such as to increase the breadth of new skillsets, commitment to ethics and global expertise in helping our organisations go green. 

The Institute has developed a sustainability strategy which encompasses three major pillars: engender corporate citizenship, build capabilities and raise awareness, and collaborate with like-minded organisations. 

Briefly, this involves the following:

ISCA will promote the responsible stewardship of environmental and social resources and advocate the adoption of sustainability reporting in businesses and sustainability practices within the accountancy profession. 

The Institute plans to build the capabilities of the accountancy profession and raise awareness on sustainability issues via technical guidance, research publications, CPD training and events. On this note, the Institute is working on several technical guidance for the profession, including guidance on climate reporting, adoption of global sustainability reporting standards, and the adoption of green finance, among others.

We will also proactively reach out to like-minded organisations to identify opportunities for collaboration, with the aim to set out how the accountancy profession can take the lead and champion sustainability within their organisations. 

We will have more to share about this at our upcoming Annual General Meeting on 23 April. Please stay tuned.

Back to today’s conference, in a moment, you will hear from Professor Sum Yee Loong from the Singapore Management University.  He will deliver the highlights of the Budget and its tax implications in his signature engaging style. You will learn about the changes to the corporate and personal tax rates, including income tax and property tax. Prof Sum will also go through the Additional Registration Fee for vehicles and the carbon tax hike.  

Mr Suan Teck Kin, Executive Director of Global Economics & Markets Research at UOB, will be presenting the Economic Outlook and Analysis of Budget 2022.  Inflationary pressures remain a key concern in Singapore and globally. As Singapore continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the pace remains uneven across the various business sectors. 

A rising interest rate environment and recent events such as the Russia-Ukraine War will pose additional challenges for both businesses and consumers. So, what lies ahead for Singapore’s economy? Let’s hear more from Mr Suan shortly. 

Next, we will have a panel discussion on “How will the Budget help you and your businesses manage the near-term challenges and long-term needs?”. Besides Prof Sum and Mr Suan, the other panellists are Mr Ang Yuit, Vice President (Strategies, Development & Digitalisation) at the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises, and Mr Lee Pak Sing, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Singapore. The discussion is moderated by Mr Chris Woo, Board Member of Singapore Chartered Tax Professionals.

Following the panel discussion, Mrs Low-Chua Pik Sim, Tax Director, Corporate Tax Division at IRAS, and Ms Lee Imm, Tax Director, Goods & Services Tax Division at IRAS, will speak about the relevance of tax governance, risk management and controls for corporate tax and GST compliance in Singapore. The presenters will also share two new voluntary compliance initiatives to guide taxpayers who are willing to commit to good tax governance practices.

As the final act for today’s conference, Mr Richard Mackender, Indirect Tax & Corporate Secretarial Services Lead at Deloitte, will speak on the highly relatable topic of “GST Hike – Getting ready for January 2023 Today”. 

I hope you enjoy the programme we have lined up for you. May you have an enjoyable and fruitful time. I believe you will receive valuable insights and takeaways that will benefit you and your organisation.

Thank you.