Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HDB Revamps Home Office Scheme To Keep Things Hassle-Free

Source : The Business Times, September 16, 2008


LICENSING schemes for small-scale business at home and the use of telecommunications equipment have been more hassle-free, as the government moves to extend the tenure period under both regulations.

For example, the Housing Development Board has changed the approval period of all new and renewal applications under the Home Office Scheme (HOS) from three years to five years, even though the administrative fee has been kept at $20.

HOS allows budding entrepreneurs conduct small-scale business from HDB and private residential property. More than than 20,600 applications have been approved so far - most of them for IT consultancy, web design, real estate services and advertising.

HDB agency changed the approval periods to provide greater convenience to home office operators, such as allowing them leeway to formulate longer-term business plans.

HDB's deputy director of branch operations Foo-Ho Yoke Ming says the benefits have of HOS been manifold. 'Besides saving on rental of office space and enjoying lower start-up costs, users also save on travelling time and expenses to and from home and office. They also get to work from the comfort of their homes and spend more time with their families.'

HOS has drawn 19,000 applications so far from HDB flat owners. 'The feedback has been very positive,' says Mrs Foo-Ho. 'Some HO users have expanded beyond the scope of the Scheme and moved on to formal business premises. HDB will continue to work with home office users, listen to their feedback and see how much further the scheme can be taken while maintaining the residential character and amenities of our housing estates.'

Mr Kenneth Yeo, of home-run business COADXIST, says of the latest change: 'It shows that the government is supporting and encouraging the local business community.'

In a similar vein, the licence period for operating radio-communications equipment on board Singapore ships and aircraft has been extended from one year to five years at a revised fee of $100, up from $50 per annum previously.

According to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), frequency spectrum resources under the licensing scheme are fixed internationally and restricted to ship and aircraft use. which requires minimal intervention by IDA. Hence, improvements could be made to the licensing process. Besides the extended licence period, a licence can now be transferred when a ship or aircraft is sold.

Audrey Lee, director, competition and market access at IDA, says: 'IDA reviews its rules regularly to ensure that where possible, licensing processes are simplified and streamlined. Such reviews will keep our licensing schemes robust yet adaptable to the market.

The Pro-Enterprise Panel was set up in 2000 to solicit feedback from businesses on how government rules and regulations can be improved to create a more pro-enterprise environment. The PEP is chaired by Civil Service Head Peter Ho and consists of mainly private-sector business leaders.

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