31 May 2013
Editor, Forum Page
A few months ago, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance urged the private sector
to improve their productivity and reduce the reliance on foreign workers.
As a small business owner, I had to spend a lot of time submitting returns and applications
to government agencies. The online processes are poorly designed from the perspective of
the public. I had submitted countless feedback on these issues over the years but the
underlying problem was never addressed.
Two months ago, I received an order from a primary school for the purchase of my books.
The teacher told me that I had to submit an e-invoice.
After considerable research, I discovered that I had to register In a website called
Vendors@SG and to apply for an EASY access code from the Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS)
The process was hardly easy. The password for the EASY access code was sent by mail
and did not arrive after 8 days. The IRAS manager arranged for hand delivery of a
The new password was not accepted after a dozen attempts on several browsers.
The error code was puzzling.
A support staff from IRAS came to my office to help fix the problem. He said that
the Java software installed on the browser was not the latest version. He spent
two hours trying to fix the problem, and had to telephone his technical expert
at the office a few times.
After this problem was fixed, I still had to go through a learning curve to find out
how to submit an e-invoice correctly. I discovered to my horror that I had to enter
all the details of the invoice for the benefit of the Accountant General office, but that work
was not suitable for entry to my own accounting system. It is double work for me.
I finally managed to submit the e-invoice after a delay of two months and
countless hours spent on learning the complex processes of the government.
The trouble is that I do not have sufficient transactions to make the effort worth the while.
There is something seriously wrong with the manner in which the government agencies
impose their requirements on the private sector, which leads to an unproductive process.
I hope that the Deputy Prime Minister will ask for this matter to be reviewed, and for
the underlying problem to be addressed.
Tan Kin Lian