30 May 2018

On 17 May 2018, the Customs (Amendment) Bill (“Bill”) was tabled in Parliament for first reading. The Bill seeks to amend the Customs Act to support recent policy changes, clarify current policies and improve Singapore Customs’ operational efficiency.

The introduction of the Bill follows the public consultation conducted by the Ministry of Finance (“MOF”) and Singapore Customs from 9 May 2017 to 5 June 2017 on proposed changes to the Customs Act. On 26 April 2018, MOF and Singapore Customs issued their response to the feedback received from their joint public consultation (“Response”).

The following are highlights of the changes arising from the Bill.

Support recent policy changes

Following the restructuring of diesel duties in Budget 2017, the Customs Act will be amended to broaden the definition of “motor fuel” to include all types of fuel used to power any means of transport, including diesel fuel. Changes to the Customs Act will also be made to provide Singapore Customs with the flexibility to collect different amounts of special tax, as the quantum of special tax was reduced in Budget 2017.

Clarity on current policies

The Bill seeks to clarify that there will be collection of duty for goods used or consumed in a Free Trade Zone (“FTZ”), approved landing place, or transit warehouse.

The Bill will also amend the Customs Act to enable more equitable outcomes when excise and customs duties are re-imposed for goods which cease to be duty-exempt. As the administrator of the Customs Act, Singapore Customs will determine when duty-exempted goods become liable for payment of customs or excise duty in line with section 14 of the Customs Act, which states that duty exemption will cease (and duties re-imposed) when any of the conditions which the exemption is subject to are contravened. Singapore Customs will compute the value of duties to be re-imposed on a case-by-case basis when the duty exemption ceases. The Bill seeks to amend section 14 to clarify that these calculations can be based on the value of the goods at the time of importation or when the exemptions cease.

Improve Singapore Customs’ operational efficiency

To ensure Singapore Customs remains operationally effective in its day-to-day administration of the Customs Act, the Bill seeks to make the following changes which are in alignment with the Goods and Services Tax:

  • extend from one year to five years the time limit for the submission of claims for duties, taxes, fees or other charges overpaid or erroneously paid; and
  • increase from one year to five years the time limit for the recovery of duties, taxes, fees, or other charges that were short levied or erroneously refunded, and to remove the time limit if the short levy or erroneous refund was the result of fraud or evasion.

In the public consultation, it was proposed to allow the Director-General of Customs to exempt parties from the submission of the manifest data for vessels, airplanes or trains arriving in or departing from Singapore. Given the concerns raised by respondents, MOF and Singapore Customs will further review the proposed changes to sections 39 and 41 in this regard. Hence, the proposed amendments to sections 39 and 41 have not been included in the Bill.

Reference materials

The following materials can be found on the Singapore Statutes Online website sso.agc.gov.sg and the MOF website www.mof.gov.sg:

 

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