Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Gambling Duties Bill (Bill No. 41/2021)
This Bill will consolidate the law on duties for lawful forms of gambling.
I have three points of clarification to raise.
Remission of gambling duty
My first point is on the remission of gambling duty.
The new section 12(1) provides for the remission of gambling duty when the gambling duty is not compatible with the purposes of the Act.
Can Minister clarify under what circumstances will gambling duty be considered not compatible with the purposes of the Act?
Further, the Minister may delegate the exercise of his or her powers in relation to remission to a Commissioner or public officer.
Can Minister clarify if there are limits to the categories of public officers to whom the Minister’s power can be delegated to?
Penalty tax on gambling duty
My second point is on the amount of penalty tax that can be imposed on outstanding gambling duty.
The new section 14(2) limits the amount of penalty tax that can be imposed to 50% of the amount of gambling duty outstanding.
I agree that the amount of penalty tax should not be excessive for an individual. That said, can Minister share what enforcement tools are available to the Ministry for the recovery of gambling duties if these remain unpaid even after the maximum amount of penalty tax has been reached?
Can Minister also share what softer measures are available for the Ministry to work with an indebted individual to meet his or her debts?
Public policy on gambling in Singapore
My final point is the effect of the present Bill on Singapore’s public policy on gambling.
The position of Singapore’s public policy on gambling has been scrutinised in a series of Court of Appeal cases including Liao Eng Kiat vs Burswood Nominees Ltd  4 SLR(R) 690, Poh Soon Kiat vs Desert Palace Inc  1 SLR 1129.
While the cases concerned the enforcement of gambling debts, which were incurred abroad, a relevant issue considered in these cases is the local policy position on gambling. In those cases, the Court has also considered local legislation on gambling including the Gaming Act, Casino Control Act, and Common Gaming Houses Act.
Can Minister clarify if the consolidation of laws on levy and collection of duties on lawful betting and lotteries has any effect on the public policy position on gambling in Singapore? If so, how should the Government’s position on gambling be understood?
In summary, I hope the Minister can shed light on my clarifications relating to the remission of gambling duty, the imposition of penalty taxes, and Singapore’s public policy on gambling.
Sir, notwithstanding my clarifications, I stand in support of the Bill.
Watch the speech here.