Channel NewsAsia

More reports of wrongful claims in PIC scheme

More people are coming forward to report wrongful claims related to the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme. 

SINGAPORE: More people are coming forward to report wrongful claims related to the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme.

In the first six months of this year, the number of reports lodged is three times of what the authorities received for the whole of last year. The PIC scheme was introduced in 2010, offering firms tax deductions or cash payouts if they take steps to boost productivity.

In the last four years, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has started investigations into 225 suspicious claims. About S$4.3 million has been recovered from 114 cases of wrongful claims, while investigations are ongoing for the remaining 111 cases.

IRAS received about 150 reports of wrongful claims in the first half of this year (2014) alone, compared to fewer than 50 for the whole of last year.

Whistleblowers said they were compelled to report abuses out of a sense of civic responsibility.

IRAS attributed the increase in the number of whistleblowers coming forward to a greater awareness of how the PIC scheme can be abused. It said that by providing information, the public is helping to ensure that the scheme truly benefits businesses that invest in productivity-enhancing activities.

Business analysts said IRAS can look out for potential red flags to guard against cheats.

Jow Lee Ying, senior lecturer at Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Business School, said: "Where you see claims that can be made on items (as) broad ranging (as) fax machines to more complex industrial machines, I think that's where there could be a higher risk for such fraudulent activities to take place - analytics to be used to focus more on such higher-risk claims."

IRAS said it will continue to monitor the situation. Where necessary, it will review the scheme to prevent abuse, while keeping it simple for businesses making genuine productivity investments. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia