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Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:01 pm

Strong Eagle? #-o ](*,) :roll:

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Kalinka77 » Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:16 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:After some research, I conclude that:

a) By law, you must create a business/company in Singapore with the ACRA in order to do business, whether or not that business is in Singapore.


Ah, okay, so confirmation for what I thought.

Strong Eagle wrote:b) You must pay Singapore personal income tax.


Yes, as being employed by my own SP, and on the top of it, sales tax and corporate tax (if turnover surpasses a certain minimum per year) through the SP.

Strong Eagle wrote:As to the best way? I have no idea what goes on in the minds of government officials, and sometimes they seem completely irrational. It's the luck of the draw... you get a dummy who doesn't understand the situation and doesn't ask a superior, you get f*cked and must go through all sorts of appeal processes. Or, you get lucky and get assigned to someone with more than a cupful of brain cells and you succeed.


Oh dear, and we are only talking about setting up the company, and not about getting the work permit for myself as the second step.

Strong Eagle wrote:So, imagine this scenario... Singapore is filled with individuals running sole proprietorship mom and pop shops of the simplest variety... where do you think the heavy thinkers in MOM will be placed? In the SP approval department? Or in the private limited department where things are more complex? Or, maybe the people in the SP department get promoted into pte ltd operations after a while... I dunno.


So, just to pick up my somewhat wider questions, every business activity, regardless if you are foreigner, PR or citizen, needs to be approved? Whether you sell stuff on ebay, give private lessons as piano teacher, or do online stock broking from home, or everything at the same time you need an SP or pte ltd? That sounds quite cumbersome, is there no thing as being a self-employed in its own right as in other countries, ie without a company set-up?


Strong Eagle wrote:Point is, you need a proper business plan as I have previously stated, and then, you need someone competent enough to deal with your business plan. My personal view is that your chances are a lot better with personnel that review companies as they will have seen more than one business plan, more than one expat. At the SP level, they will have seen little, if anything, more complex than the SP business filing.


Understood, I will need to get professional advice, as this case is not so straightforward.

That's a lot for checking that.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 12 Dec 2014 3:56 am

You need to understand a bit of Singapore history with respect to starting a business.

In the beginning, 10 or so years ago when the Entrepass got cranked up, the requirements were easy-peasy. You created a business plan, they reviewed it, and you'd get a green light. You didn't have to prove up any capital and nobody really questioned whether you actually knew what you were doing. This is how I started my business.

Then, the government realized that lots of scammers were using the Entrepass as a free ticket into Singapore. They didn't have any money, or any experience, or any real hope of getting a successful business off the ground, but it did give them an opportunity to stay in Singapore and try to get a job with another company.

So, things were tightened up. You now had to prove up capital in a bank and the applicant for the Entrepass had to contribute at least 20 percent of that capital. But, I guess that wasn't enough or maybe it was the anti-foreigner sentiment, but new rules were added that made it much more difficult to start up an Entrepass business. You could no longer open a business as a sole proprietorship... only a private limited. You had to have a certain expense spend (not revenue) each year, you had to employ a certain number of Singaporeans each year, and you had to provide training so that your employees were certified. This essentially eliminated the Entrepass for any professional (project manager, consultant, web specialist, etc) because of the employee and spend requirements.

The final nail in the coffin was restricting Entrepass start ups by insisting that they either come out of the A-Star incubation system, hold exclusive IP, or were financed by a venture capitalist. Thus, if you're not a high tech start up with a round of financing, you won't qualify for an Entrepass.

But, the Entrepass is not the only way to start a business. MOM has recognized that the Entrepass requirements eliminate many people that Singapore deems desirable... finance managers, project managers, people with technical skills, and various other professionals. Therefore, on a case by case basis, each person who asks to start a business or company and obtain a work pass is reviewed by MOM.

If you want your review to be successful, I judge (and this is only me) that you will need, at a minimum, the following:

a) You will have a 10 to 15 page biz plan that lays out what you intend to do and how you intend to do it. See my biz plan outline in the Entrepass thread in the Business forum.
b) Pro forma financial statements that show expected income, expense, and break even points.
c) A solid resume that proves up your experience, background, and your ability to run the business.
d) Additional information such as the nature of your business doesn't take jobs from Singaporeans but that you do keep your money in Singapore banks, you hire Singapore accountants and lawyers, and you use Singapore businesses for advertising, stationery, etc.
e) You actually have a bank account with money in it that proves your ability to survive to your predicted break even.
f) If you already have a successful business and just want to run it from Singapore, then include information about the business.
g) You will not be starting a business that was prohibited under the old Entrepass scheme... hawker stall, hair dresser, fortune teller, daycare... all the kinds of things that are reserved for the "ordinary guy/gal" in Singapore

When I said, "you need someone competent enough to deal with your business plan", I wasn't referring to professional advice, I was referring to increasing your chances of getting an experienced person at the Ministry of Manpower to review your application.

I judge, first of all, that if you file as a private limited company, you are immediately taken more seriously. And I judge that if you apply as a private limited, your application ends up in the hands of people at MOM with more business savvy. Your chances are increased.

And, I judge that if you apply as a sole proprietorship, you reduce your chances. You look like an expat on a shoestring budget. And, I judge that people who process SP applications aren't nearly as savvy about work passes simply because most SP's don't ever apply for work passes.

There is nothing a "professional" can do for you that you cannot do for yourself. File your EP application manually so that you can include all your documentation. Don't take no for an answer. Make sure that when you appeal, if necessary, you have the supporting documentation to overcome whatever they didn't like about you.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Brah » Fri, 12 Dec 2014 9:17 am

Damn, SE, you should be doing this kind of thing professionally.
Ape Shall Not Kill Ape.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby the lynx » Fri, 12 Dec 2014 9:28 am

That's what I've said before in other thread!

SE, consider this as something to reload your retirement pot.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Kalinka77 » Wed, 17 Dec 2014 8:25 pm

Very helpful indeed and comprehensive, best inforamtion I got so far. See some comments below.

Strong Eagle wrote:If you want your review to be successful, I judge (and this is only me) that you will need, at a minimum, the following:

a) You will have a 10 to 15 page biz plan that lays out what you intend to do and how you intend to do it. See my biz plan outline in the Entrepass thread in the Business forum.
b) Pro forma financial statements that show expected income, expense, and break even points.
c) A solid resume that proves up your experience, background, and your ability to run the business.
d) Additional information such as the nature of your business doesn't take jobs from Singaporeans but that you do keep your money in Singapore banks, you hire Singapore accountants and lawyers, and you use Singapore businesses for advertising, stationery, etc.
e) You actually have a bank account with money in it that proves your ability to survive to your predicted break even.
f) If you already have a successful business and just want to run it from Singapore, then include information about the business.


Although I will certainly this advice, it sounds like nothing but smoke and mirrors: biz plans, pro forma financial statements, resumes and other statements of intent can be completely made up, or is there anything that they usually want to see proved, apart from the bank account with money?

Strong Eagle wrote:g) You will not be starting a business that was prohibited under the old Entrepass scheme... hawker stall, hair dresser, fortune teller, daycare... all the kinds of things that are reserved for the "ordinary guy/gal" in Singapore


That touches possibly my plan B. Let's say, the Ltd company will be approved, but plans with the Chinese publishing company (I am still talking to them) don't go so well or don't materialize at all, can I use my new company to focus more on typical Expat activities on my own account, as teaching my native language, selling or trading online etc. (I mentioned that above). Since all these generate income and therefore taxes, it would make sense, but it might not be allowed to pursue business that is not covered by the biz plan. Also, do the authorities check and review success and nature of activities after, say, the first tax statement?

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:18 am

In a sense, all biz plans and pro forma financials are "made up" since they supposedly reflect a future that hasn't happened yet. But some reflect reality better than others.

Anyone with some experience can read right through a bullshit plan. If you plan on selling two million toothbrushes in Singapore next year because, after all, everyone brushes their teeth, then you have a bullshit plan. If you've submitted pro forma statements wherein the net margins are way out of line to industry standards, or where your expense ratios make no sense, you've submitted more BS.

OTOH, if you can show you understand supply chain logistics, you've got your finances worked out, you understand the market and your competition, then you might be believable. It used to be that MOM forwarded all biz plans to SPRING for review... they may still do that. SPRING definitely has people capable of seeing through the smoke and mirrors.

As for your other questions, when you form a company, you always include "general trading" as one of the industry codes, and a CPA would be derelict to not inform you of this. General trading allows you to move into whatever businesses you might want, without the need to file more paperwork.

As to whether the authorities actually check to see how you are doing, it's hard to say, as they don't contact any of us with their strategies and plans. But it is a fact that multiple government databases have become increasingly integrated over the years, and I would not be at all surprised if MOM didn't contact IRAS and ACRA to see how you are doing before approving your application to extend an EP. I do know of a fellow that took advantage of the laws to pay zero corporate tax and zero personal income tax... his REP didn't not get approved.

You're in a crapshoot here. If you come across as polished, professional, knowledgeable, with reasonable and logical plans and financial projections, they just might let you on the train. If you sound like you just graduated with a masters from a well reputed university... well... the outcome might be different.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Kalinka77 » Mon, 22 Dec 2014 7:31 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:In a sense, all biz plans and pro forma financials are "made up" since they supposedly reflect a future that hasn't happened yet. But some reflect reality better than others.

Anyone with some experience can read right through a bullshit plan. If you plan on selling two million toothbrushes in Singapore next year because, after all, everyone brushes their teeth, then you have a bullshit plan. If you've submitted pro forma statements wherein the net margins are way out of line to industry standards, or where your expense ratios make no sense, you've submitted more BS.

OTOH, if you can show you understand supply chain logistics, you've got your finances worked out, you understand the market and your competition, then you might be believable. It used to be that MOM forwarded all biz plans to SPRING for review... they may still do that. SPRING definitely has people capable of seeing through the smoke and mirrors.

As for your other questions, when you form a company, you always include "general trading" as one of the industry codes, and a CPA would be derelict to not inform you of this. General trading allows you to move into whatever businesses you might want, without the need to file more paperwork.

As to whether the authorities actually check to see how you are doing, it's hard to say, as they don't contact any of us with their strategies and plans. But it is a fact that multiple government databases have become increasingly integrated over the years, and I would not be at all surprised if MOM didn't contact IRAS and ACRA to see how you are doing before approving your application to extend an EP. I do know of a fellow that took advantage of the laws to pay zero corporate tax and zero personal income tax... his REP didn't not get approved.

You're in a crapshoot here. If you come across as polished, professional, knowledgeable, with reasonable and logical plans and financial projections, they just might let you on the train. If you sound like you just graduated with a masters from a well reputed university... well... the outcome might be different.


I think, in addition to the formal requirements, I got the attitude and the gist of the habit that would make an application successful. Will update the topic when furhter questions come up.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 22 Dec 2014 9:25 pm

Kalinka77 wrote:I think, in addition to the formal requirements, I got the attitude and the gist of the habit that would make an application successful. Will update the topic when furhter questions come up.



With that statement I have a sneaking suspicion that you have a masters from a reputed university in India that nobody has every hear of outside of that particular state it's located in. Good Luck. I fear you are going to need a lot of it.

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Re: Working for a foreign service provider in Singapore?

Postby Kalinka77 » Wed, 24 Dec 2014 8:27 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
Kalinka77 wrote:I think, in addition to the formal requirements, I got the attitude and the gist of the habit that would make an application successful. Will update the topic when further questions come up.



With that statement I have a sneaking suspicion that you have a masters from a reputed university in India that nobody has every hear of outside of that particular state it's located in. Good Luck. I fear you are going to need a lot of it.


I have not the slightest idea what you think should be wrong with the mindset and the attitude that StrongEagle described as promising and which I plan to adapt. Perhaps you should direct your criticism to him directly. Hopefully, not all people in Singapore that call themselves 'HR Manager' or 'Headhunter' are as cynical as you.

To be very clear, I think the way you jump to conclusions from my contribution appears racist to me, apart from the fact you imply that I gained an academic grade and trying to start a business by fraud.
Shame on you!

For all others that follow the thread: I found all the advice in this topic extremely helpful and won't let myself discourage from following SE's advice here. I am only a bit disappointed that people are allowed to interfere in such a way, but that might has to do with fact that it is my first topic here.


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