Brunei, Singapore ink double taxation avoidance agreement
By Waleed PD Mahdini in Singapore

Brunei Darussalam became the 13th nation to sign an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement with Singapore yesterday.

Signing on behalf of the Singaporean government was Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office while Brunei was represented by its second Minister of Finance, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Hj Abd Rahman Hj Ibrahim on Friday afternoon. The deal with Brunei is also the first protocol Singapore signed after joining the OECD's white list of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the standard.

According to the Straits Times, Singapore has been taken off the 'grey list' and joined the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) 'white list' of financial jurisdictions.

This follows the signing of its 12th Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with France on Friday, which incorporates the new internationally agreed standard for the exchange of information for tax purposes upon request.

Singapore already has similar agreements with Belgium, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Denmark, The Netherlands, Australia, Austria, Norway, Qatar, Mexico and Bahrain.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam inked the protocol with French Minister for Economy, Industry and Employment Christine Lagarde in Singapore on Friday. Singapore was earlier put on the grey list which groups jurisdictions that had committed to the globally-agreed standard for the exchange of tax information, but had not substantially implemented it. To be removed from the grey list, a country needs to sign at least 12 agreements that incorporates the new standard.

Singapore endorsed the OECD Standard for the exchange of tax information in March, which requires governments to disclose financial information when specific foreign requests are made to chase tax evaders.

Since then, it has renegotiated existing agreements with various countries. Last month, the Singapore Parliament approved the legislative changes to implement the standard.

Asian banking powerhouse Singapore on Friday cleared the final hurdle for complying with a global clampdown on tax cheats by signing an agreement with France to share tax information.

The signing enabled the city-state to get off a "grey list" of countries that have not yet fully implemented standards set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the industrialised nations' club. - Borneo Bulletin (14th November 2009)