ACRA to train directors in Singapore in financial reporting and compliance

Nurdianah Md Nur

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), the regulator of business entities and public accountants in Singapore, will be launching a series of initiatives to help strengthen the competencies of company directors in the republic.

This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at a dinner yesterday to mark ACRA's 10th anniversary.

Under a partnership with the Singapore Institute of Directors, ACRA will provide training in financial reporting to directors of listed and large non-listed companies. By strengthening their financial reporting competencies, these directors will be able to "fulfil their duty of ensuring the accuracy of financial statement," said Shanmugaratnam.

ACRA will also be introducing a Directors' Compliance Programme which "targets to train 10,000 first time offending directors who fail to file annual returns," he added. Offered in lieu of prosecution, the programme will educate these directors on general director duties and common statutory requirements under the Companies Act.

"Regulation is most effective when it is understood," said Shanmugaratnam. "Therefore, we have to actively complement enforcement actions with regular outreach efforts that are aimed at helping businesses understand the regulations and what they need to comply with them."

New rules and changes in regulatory requirements
In related news,ACRA will be introducing new regulations to address emerging risks, said Shanmugaratnam. For instance,the ACRA Act now requires corporate service providers to conduct customer due diligence and report suspicious transactions. ACRA will also widen the scope of its financial reporting surveillance to review financial statements of listed companies as well as non-listed companies with public interest.

To help reduce compliance costs for small businesses in Singapore, ACRA will be amending the Companies Act to exempt a number of small private companies from statutory audit. The move will "reduce compliance costs for a further 10 percent of the companies or about 25,000 small companies," said Shanmugaratnam.