AN AGREEMENT on streamlining reviews in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand of offers or listings of equity or plain debt securities has been secured. It has been written into a memorandum of understanding designed to promote common prospectuses in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It has been signed through the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Thailand and the Singapore Exchange (SGX). Designed to boost the ASEAN region’s attractiveness as a fund-raising centre, under the agreement, issuers planning to offer or list equity or plain debt securities can expect a shorter time-to-market and faster access to capital across signatory countries. The signatories will by this October release a joint handbook advising on relevant administrative and procedural matters including the criteria for issues, application procedures and review timelines.


*Reforms and guidance on how Singapore implements its agreement with the USA over complying with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) have been published by the city state’s finance ministry, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). For instance, the regulators said regarding accounts held by minors, participating Singapore financial institutions should obtain information on both the minor and their parents’ accounts, including certification on whether the account is held by a US taxpayer. They also defined financial institution ‘relationship managers’ with FATCA responsibilities as an employee assigned responsibility for an account holder on an ongoing basis. And that documents establishing an account holder’s status will remain valid indefinitely, unless there is a specific expiry date (eg a passport) or a change in circumstances altering the account holder’s status. Full details –

*The Singapore-US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Model 1 Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and regulations entered into force on March 18 – see

*IRAS has stressed that all Singapore tax residents will receive a personal income tax rebate of 50%, capped at Singapore dollars SGD1,000 (USD720), for the 2015 tax season. A notice to taxpayers added that taxpayers can now share ‘parent relief’ amongst claimants supporting their parents, with the maximum amount increased by between SGD1,000 and SGD3,000. And IRAS has stressed that it will help commission earners, such as estate and insurance agents, by pre-filling commission information in tax returns this year.

*Meanwhile, more than 85,000 employers in Singapore will receive about SGD1.4 billion (USD1 billion) in ‘wage credit scheme’ payouts by March 31, with small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) receiving about three quarters of the money. The tax break is designed to help businesses cope with rising wage costs to free up resources for productivity investments.

*The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), of Singapore has released guidance to help corporate service providers understand new requirements demanded by the April 2014 ACRA (Amendment) Act. It comes as the government drafts new ACRA (Filing Agents and Qualified Individuals) Regulations to underpin the new law. The guidance includes model internal policies, procedures and controls to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and also a model client acceptance form. See –

*The Inland Revenue Department of Hong Kong has accepted that 2013/14 and 2014/15 profits tax returns can include assessable profits computed on a fair value basis whilst it reviews a judgement at the special administrative region’s Court of Final Appeal. Its November 2013 decision in the Nice Cheer Investment Limited v CIR case gave guidance on how profits should be calculated in Hong Kong tax returns. See

*Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has launched a three-month consultation on proposed principles of responsible ownership, guiding how investors should behave when investing in a listed company. These principles include establishing and reporting policies for discharging ownership responsibilities and reporting these actions; monitoring and engaging with companies subject to investment; establishing clear policies on when to escalate engagement; having clear voting policies; acting with other investors when appropriate; and developing policies on managing conflicts of interests when investing on behalf of clients. Comments are requested by June 2 (2015).

*The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants has released revised guidance on the duties of an insurer’s auditor under the special administrative region’s insurance companies ordinance – see

*The institute has also published a revised practice note on auditors’ letters regarding continuing connected transactions under Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing rules – see

*The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx) board will establish a risk committee to oversee the overall risk management framework of HKEx and its subsidiaries, advising on ongoing risks faced by the stock exchange. It will work alongside the HKEx’s existing statutory risk management committee, which focuses on Hong Kong cross-market risk -

*The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has published its annual fact book, including statistics from HKEx’s and its subsidiaries’ markets, for instance on securities, derivatives and commodities trading.

*Meanwhile, the mainland Chinese government has simplified procedure for recent graduates to obtain tax advantages available to them if they launch their own business. Until this month (March 2015), new graduates had to secure two government certifications to benefit – ‘employment and unemployment registration’ and ‘college graduate entrepreneurship’, and then they still had to apply for the tax breaks. Now they only need to get one certification – ‘employment and entrepreneurship’. The tax break exempt beneficiaries from up to Chinese Yuan Renminbi CNY8,000 (USD1,287.50) in business tax, personal income tax, urban construction tax and local education taxes each year for the following three years, according to China’s state administration of taxation. The move is designed to stimulate job creation, as China’s breakneck economic growth tails off. 

*China has also tried to simplify its VAT refund scheme for exporters, and its consumption tax redistribution scheme. According to China’s state council, export companies now receive all their VAT refunds due on overseas sales from the central government. Previously, local governments paid 7.5% of the available money to businesses. In 2014, China paid CNY1.13 trillion (USD182 billion) in refunds to exporters, up 8% from 2013.

*And, the central government has reformed the way it distributes consumption tax to local governments, paying a pre-set fixed amount, rather than a portion of returns linked to consumption tax rates – this took effect on January 1, although the announcement was made in February.

*The Malaysian Institute of Accountants has released revised Malaysian Approved Standards on Assurance Engagements, taking account of reforms to the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE). The changes amend guidance on assurance reports on service organisation controls; assurance engagements on greenhouse gas statements; and prospectus pro-forma financial information.

*The Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRBM) has announced that taxpayers may henceforth pay income tax and real property gains tax via a credit card, at All Malaysia-issued VISA, MasterCard and American Express credit cards may be used.

*The Malaysian government has made an Income Tax (Exemption) Order 2015 [P.U. (A) 40/2015] exempting individuals from paying income tax on a deferred life insurance or family takaful annuity withdrawn by that taxpayer before reaching 55-years-old, covering transactions between January 1 and May 31, 2014.

*The Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) has invited its members to participate in a survey of the implementation of the replacement of Malaysia’s current Private Entities Reporting Standards (PERS) with the Malaysian Private Entities Reporting Standard (MPERS) for financial statements beginning on or after January 1, 2016.