Customs (Amendment) Bill 2011 – Second Reading in Parliament

23 November 2011

The Customs (Amendment) Bill which was presented in Parliament on 22 November 2011, for the second reading comprises three main categories of changes, with key changes are highlighted below.

A. Customs enforcement to be enhanced

  • Mandatory imprisonment for repeat offenders caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will be introduced and the minimum court fine to $4,000 for all repeat offenders, comprising $2,000 for the unpaid duty, and $2,000 for the unpaid GST will be increased.
  • Court fines for first-time offenders caught with contraband cigarettes to be increased. The minimum court fine will be raised to $2,000 for first-time offenders, comprising $1,000 each for the unpaid duty and the unpaid GST (Clause 17).
  • The Act will be amended to extend liability to any person who furnishes incorrect information to another for making declarations. Clause 15 of the Bill allows Singapore Customs to prosecute traders who have provided incorrect information as well.

B. Disclosure of information to domestic public agencies

  •  The Customs Act will be amended to allow Singapore Customs to disclose information to domestic public agencies, where public interests are of concern. Agencies requesting for customs information will be required to seek approval from the Minister for Finance. Any information disclosed to the domestic public agencies will be governed by the Official Secrets Act (Clause 11).

C. Administration of the Customs Act

  • A ticketing system for minor customs offences will be introduced to streamline the enforcement process by automatically requiring any offender who fails to pay the composition sum to be brought to court (Clause 14).
  • Singapore Customs can appoint persons such as a taxpayer’s bank or employer as an agent for recovering unpaid duties. This is similar to the provision for the Income Tax Act and GST Act (Clause 13).
  • Traders must retain trade documents, regardless of whether these are in hardcopy or electronic form, for no less than five years. Clauses 10 and 12 of the Bill allow traders to keep an electronic image of the records instead of the original documents, at any time after the goods in question have been removed from customs control.
  • A provision to facilitate the implementation of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) duty will be introduced. In Budget 2009, it was announced that Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, will be dutiable from 1 Jan 2012. The Customs Act will therefore be amended to define CNG as a dutiable fuel, and to extend the three-quarter tank rule to include CNG tanks (Clauses 2, 4, 18 and 20).

The remaining seven legislative changes provide greater legal clarity on the application of specific provisions within the Customs Act.

To view the Bill, please click here.

Source: Ministry of Finance