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Debt Repayment Scheme in Singapore: Complete Guide 2024

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In the last five years, filing for bankruptcy has become increasingly common as people are feeling more and more financial strain. Last January 2022 saw a record spike of 3,648 cases. This, could be attributed to the pandemic and rising costs of living.

Fortunately, the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) in Singapore can give a sense of security during these tough times by helping you avoid bankruptcy while maintaining positive credit standing. Learn more how how you can take back control of your financial situation within 5 years. 

What is the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS)?

Administered by the Official Assignee (OA) from the Ministry of Law’s Insolvency Office, DRS Singapore could function as a lifeline option instead of declaring bankruptcy. As appointed by the High Court, the Official Assignee (OA) will be in the duty of observing the conduct of the debtor and assisting in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Other than that, the assignee OA will assist the debtor to mend their assets to be distributed to creditors. The Debt Repayment Scheme in Singapore can help those sole proprietors struggling in business to save themselves from bankruptcy, and another good option to revive their credit ratings.

How does a Debt Repayment Scheme Work?

A debt repayment scheme seeks a win-win solution for both the debtor and the creditor. Debtors with unsecured debts not exceeding $150,000 will be able to apply for a debt repayment plan (DRP) under the DRS to avoid “bankruptcy, along with its restrictions and social stigma.”

This payment is then divided among the individual’s creditors, who agree to accept it in full and final settlement of the debts owed. In exchange, the individual is protected from legal action by their creditors.

Here’s the flowchart to further understand the step-by-step procedure:

DRS Flowchart

DRS Flowchart (mlaw.gov.sg)

Is Debt Repayment Scheme a Good Alternative to Bankruptcy?

In the below table, noticeable differences between DRS and bankruptcy were listed. Those were:

Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS)

Bankruptcy

The debtor still stands as a legitimate owner of all their property.

The OA are subjected to acquire title to almost all of debtor’s property, excluding only a few essential items that are needful for living (e.g. HDB flats). As an instance, properties such as computers or TV are not essential items.

The debtor repays their debts with consistent due payments in accordance to the DRS plan.

The OA gets to put debtors’ properties to sell and apportion those to the creditors.

DRS has more reasonable costs.

  • 1.5% fee paid to OA for collection
  • 3% fee paid for distributing the funds

Bankruptcy in Singapore exerts much higher cost in its transactions in comparison to DRS.

In most previous cases, the debtors managed to repay all of their debts.

In a lot of circumstances, once bankrupt – debtors are not able to retrieve significant fractions of the whole debt.

For the most part, debtors are not tied to travel restriction by informing the OA beforehand.

More often than not, debtors are strictly not allowed to leave Singapore unless they get permission to do so from the OA.

Debtors bonded through DRS are still permissible to take part in business affairs.

By and large, debtors who have been declared bankrupt are not to engage in any business activities.

The debtors are not declared as bankrupt nor do they carry the negative social stigma.

Debtors’ bankruptcy will be announced to the public.

How to Apply for the DRS?

When a bankruptcy application is filed against you in the High Court, your case may be sent to the Official Assignee for assessment if your total liabilities are under $150,000. From there, multiple criteria must be met to determine whether or not you qualify for debt restructuring through the DRS program.

Who is Eligible for a Debt Repayment Scheme?

To be eligible for a Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) in Singapore, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Total liabilities do not exceed $150,000;
  • Gainfully employed and earning a regular income;
  • Have not been a bankrupt or been on the DRS in the last 5 years;
  • Have not been subject to a court-based arrangement in the last 5 years; and
  • Not a sole-proprietor or partner in any firm.

Are you suitable for the DRS?

To be considered for the Debt Repayment Scheme, you must first meet the eligibility criteria. This includes:

  • Financial affairs
  • Income and expenditure
  • Proposed debt repayment plan to your creditors

Note that business directors may not participate in the DRS due to potential business liabilities.

If you Meet the Eligibility Criteria

If your financial situation is deemed appropriate, a Debt Repayment Plan will be created for you. You will then be required to file your statements in the following order:

  1. Statement of Affairs
  2. Income & Expenditure Statement
  3. Debt Repayment Plan
  4. Supporting Documents as per Annex B (Debtor’s List of Supporting Documents)

When the OA approves your DRP, you’ll begin making payments to the OA. The OA will then distribute the payments to your creditor.

If you DID NOT Meet the Eligibility Criteria

However, if you didn’t meet the criteria or the OA assesses that you’re unsuitable, then your case will be returned to the Court to be heard again.

Couple is Listening From an Agent

What are the Duties of a Debtor under the DRS?

Apart from staying consistent with your repayments following your DRP, you are also obliged to fulfill the following:

  • Inform your case administrator if there is any change in your contact details, i.e. change in mobile number, address;
  • Inform your case administrator if there is any change in your employment details, i.e. change of employer, increase in salary, payment of bonus(es) and forward the necessary documents (employment contract/salary slip) to your case administrator;
  • Disclose to the OA your property;
  • Disclose to the OA any disposal of your property within the 5 years before the start of the bankruptcy proceedings against you before the completion date of the DRS;
  • Attend any meeting required by the OA and to inform your case administrator at least 3 days in advance if you are unable to attend the meeting;
  • Do not make any preferential payments to any of your creditors;
  • Do no incur further liabilities without the ability to repay;
  • Update your Income and Expenditure statement as required and to forward supporting documents e.g. salary slips, CPF statements and/or Notice of Tax Assessment and any other additional documents requested by your case administrator eg. receipts; and
  • Adhere to the terms and conditions of the approved DRP, including the payment of regular monthly instalments, Annual Wage Supplement/bonus, and annual administration fees when required.

Read Also: Debt Consolidation vs Personal Loan

What Happens after Completing the DRS?

After repaying your debts under a Debt Repayment Plan (DRP), the Office of Administration will reward you with a Certificate of Completion guaranteeing release from any further liabilities. 

Beware though: should they have reasonable suspicion that you violated their terms and conditions prior to or after receiving this certificate, it may be revoked; leaving all debt obligations in full force once again.

What Happens if I Fail to Comply with My Obligations under the DRS?

Should you miss payments or not meet the responsibilities of your DRP, then unfortunately a Certificate of Failure will be issued by the official administrator. This will leave all of your creditors fully able to initiate fresh bankruptcy proceedings against you.

DRS Fees and/or Charges

Here are the summary of fees payable under the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution (Official Assignee’s Fees) Regulations 2020 for the assessment and administration of cases.

Fees

Amount

Due

Before DRP commences

Preliminary administration

$350

At the submission of documents

OA’s review of debtor’s suitability for the DRS

$250

On or before the meeting of creditors

After DRP commences

Annual administration

  • First 2 years
  • Next 3 years

  • $300 per year
  • $350 per year

At the start of every year of administration

Appeal Fee

$100

At the submission of Notice of Appeal

DRP Modification Fee

$50

On or before the meeting of creditors for modification of DRP

Collection fee by the OA of all payments made by debtor

1.5% of amount collected

Distribution fee by the OA of dividends to creditors

3% of amount distributed

Conclusion

The Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) might be a more practical solution to loads of debts for those who wish to secure their property, to maintain their public reputation as well as preserve their right while repaying their debts. It is a pretty win-win situation for both party’s debtors as well as creditors because it could also be an option for creditors who have more opportunities of recovering their money’s worth.

Key takeaways

Looking for an alternative way to help you pay off your debt? Loan Advisor simplifies the process of comparing different loan plans from the top licensed moneylenders, allowing you to find the best loan rates, tenure, and terms. Request up to three loan quotes today!

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