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Government unveils new portal for firms applying for food-related licences

THE government wants to make business processes more business-centric, starting with a new portal that will help firms set up food service businesses more cheaply and easily, according to Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat on Tuesday. 

With the new GoBusiness Licensing portal, firms setting up food shops like restaurants, cafés or food courts do not need to approach government agencies separately to get licensed, and can instead apply through that one portal, similar to the current LicenceOne platform.

But where business owners had to fill up to 845 data fields across 14 forms administered by various agencies, they will now only need to fill in one application form to set up a new food services business.

Food services business owners now can expect to complete their licence application process faster, with turnaround time cut by 10 to 14 days.

They could also enjoy up to S$560 in cost savings, thanks to unnecessary steps in the application process being removed.

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The food sector was chosen first for its high volume of companies - there are now over 4,000 food services companies in Singapore - and complex application process, but coverage will be progressively extended to other types of companies, with retail and environmental services the next in line, Mr Chee said at the sidelines of the Business Times SME Seminar.

Plans to streamline other forms of transactions between businesses and the government, such as grant applications, are also in the works and could come as soon as next year. 

The GoBusiness Licensing portal will be launched on Oct 31, by the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI), Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech).

Some 41 businesses were involved in testing the platform. The team also worked with trade associations and chambers to ensure that the platform's features would benefit businesses.

"For new restaurateurs, getting the correct licences and documents in order can be a very time-consuming process", said Vincent Tan, president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore. 

"The new system will allow us to streamline the application process so business owners can focus their time and energy on other important areas such as operations and logistics."

In the meantime, firms can find out more about the new portal through related materials on LicenceOne. 

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