Singapore provides guidance for companies following COVID-19 movement restrictions

Singapore is understandably known as one of the best places in the world to set up and run a company, thanks to its stable political, legal and economic environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant disruption to businesses and organisations around the world and Singapore has not been immune to this.

The government has announced a record three budgets so far this year in an effort to shore up the economy and support businesses and continues to make changes to existing laws and regulations that were put in place before restrictive movement prohibitions were imposed.

For the holding of meetings such as shareholder meetings and AGMs, the government has outlined a number of new measures that companies can abide by that allow for more flexibility during this period. These measures are designed to provide clarity over how companies should conduct mandatory meetings, given the restrictions that have been imposed on social distancing.

As detailed in the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Companies, Variable Capital Companies, Business Trusts, Unit Trusts and Debenture Holders) Order 2020, companies in Singapore, including VCCs and Trusts, can now ‘attend’ meetings electronically. This includes tele-conferences and / or video conferences.

An issuer is required to inform attendees that they cannot meet in person and should arrange for a meeting to be held by electronic means and at no cost to the participants. The software or platform they use must have a live audio only link and a live video and audio link that is secured by login and password.

For companies whose essential persons are required to be in the same physical location, social distancing measures must be observed. The issuer must notify the Ministry for Trade and Industry (MTI) of the date, time and venue beforehand.

There is additional guidance on quorum requirements, the sharing of virtual information before sessions start and proxy voting.

This order is not mandatory and companies who can hold meetings within the law and adhering to safe distancing measures may do so. Given the time and complexity involved in organising many of these meetings, the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has extended the deadline for the holding of AGMs )and filing of Annual Returns (ARs)) by 60 days.

This extension applies for all companies including those who have previously been granted an extension. Furthermore, it is granted automatically, and firms do not have to apply.

Even during this outbreak it is good to see Singapore taking sensible and pragmatic steps to make life easier for businesses.

For more information, please contact Alpadis Group Singapore.