Faster F&B licensing process to roll out by 2019

Fees will also be slashed by more than $500.

Food and beverage (F&B) firms will soon embrace a simplified licensing regime with the application process for licensing under review, senior minister of state for trade and industry Chee Hong Tat revealed.

“We must ensure that when we try to achieve ‘one-stop’ service, our ‘one-stop’ should not become ‘one more stop,” Chee said during his speech at the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) Excellent Service Award (EXSA).

Amongst the development for the new application will include a faster and easier form signing by reducing the data field to more than 75% or 200 data fields left for answering.

“Previously, a company which wants to set up a food shop would need to fill up to 845 data fields across multiple forms administered by different government agencies,” the senior minister said. “Many of the 845 data fields are duplicative, as different agencies are asking for the same information.”

Chee said that the review team of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) will stretch their target to go below 100 data fields for some cases where applications are more straightforward.

He added that the current 14 forms for licencing will be merged into one single application where applicants will only have to upload supporting documents during application from different agencies compared to the current system where they have to provide similar documents for every licence application.

License fees will also be slashed by more than $500 by removing some steps.

“If government agencies can lower our processing and enforcement costs, we can share the savings with businesses in the form of lower licence fees,” Chee explained. “The more difficult next step is to ask every agency to scrutinise their cost structures and look for ways to improve efficiency or change their regulatory approach to reduce licensing costs.”

The senior minister acknowledged that every agency might try to keep their existing processes intect due to the constraints and incentives of our current system.

“I am glad that head of civil service and our senior public service leaders are giving their fullest support for these regulatory deep-dives,” Chee noted. “And if policy changes are required, we will surface to the ministers and cabinet for a decision.”

Finally, the minister revealed that the new application process will speed up its processing to just 28 days from the current 48 days for a standard application through process simplification and harmonisation, sharing of information between different agencies, and using parallel processing.

The review team includes officers from MTI, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, GovTech as well as the Public Service Division. Chee revealed that they will also tap on RAS and its members’ feedback to test the system for the next phase of the review before it rolls out by 2019.

Chee also urged individual businesses to provide their feedback and ideas as they work for the smart regulation.

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