Guide to the Debt Repayment Scheme in Singapore

Guide to the Debt Repayment Scheme in Singapore

According to statistics of the number of applications of bankruptcy, it was evident that the figures have kept on rising from the year 2017 to 2019. To add, in January 2020, the number of applications jumped 47% higher – the highest number since October 2004, says Chanjaroen and Ong.

In these difficult times, if you are facing a severe financial constraint, Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) in Singapore is an excellent alternative to keep bankruptcy at bay. Debt Repayment Scheme Singapore is another good option for those who are struggling to keep the business operating and those who don’t want to stain their good credit standing. Let’s discuss below what this scheme is all about.

What is the Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS)?​

It is not a new phenomenon that we hear some people resorting to lodging for bankruptcy when they cannot seem to find a way out to put an end to their loads of debts. Anyhow it may be, filing for bankruptcy still does not let one escape from paying back its creditors.

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.

Couple is Listening From an Agent

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.

Who is Eligible for Debt Repayment Scheme?

If you are considering applying for DRS, it is vital that you revise the criteria of eligibility. Below we list down all the necessary for you to know:

  •  Your overall debts in singapore total do not go over S$100,000 (this amount has been increased to S$250,000 until 19 October 2020 due to COVID-19)
  • You have not been declared a bankrupt at any time within the last 5 years
  • You are not bonded to DRS within the last 5 years
  • You are not a sole proprietor or a partner in any partnership

You must also keep in mind not to:

  •  Submit or provide any information or data that are faulty or confusing to the OA in regard to your financial dealings;
  • Fail to give any information in relation to your financial matters that is demanded by the OA;
  • Fail to provide your property or any disposal of your property to the OA;
  • Forge any losses and expenditures to account for your property when reporting to the OA;
  • Get into any affairs of undervaluing transaction with other parties 5 years starting from the day the bankruptcy application is made against you until the very last day of your DRS completion, or
  • Display any unjust fondness to:
  • Any confederate 2 years starting from the day the bankruptcy filed against you to the last days of your DRS completion, or
  • Any third party 6 months starting from the day the bankruptcy filed against you to the last day of your DRS completion

If you suit all of the eligibility criteria listed above, the OA will be helping you in the proceedings to work out for your own Debt Repayment Plan (DRP).

You will be required to provide and send in your financial dealings statement with your suggested debt repayment plan (DRP) through the Ministry of Law’s Insolvency Office E-Services. You may easily access this platform through this link. The fees that will be required of you to pay for submission of your documentation is $350. 

filling application form

You will be obliged to file your documents following the order below:

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

The appointed DRS administrator will review your documents to decide if they are all correct and relevant. After that, you are commanded to attend a meeting with the OA and creditors to go into your monthly installment.

Keep in mind that your suggested DRP is subjected to change by the OA upon approving the finalized terms wherever he or she sees fit. It will be done prior to the meeting with you and your creditors.

When your DRP has been approved, you will commence your monthly repayment to the OA. The proceedings after that in regard to distributing the dividends to creditors included in the DRP be completed by the OA.

Another thing worthy of note is that your DRS status will be included in your public record database and visible to everyone if you are eligible for DRS.

However, in any case that you do not meet the criteria of eligibility for DRS, the OA will then inform the court upon the disapproval. Following that, the court will carry on with hearing your bankruptcy application and you also have the option for credit counseling.

How to Apply for Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS)?

Applying for DRS starts with filing for bankruptcy with the court. It is not possible to apply for DRS without beginning the bankruptcy proceedings. In the event that your creditors have filed for bankruptcy against you, you will be referred to the Insolvency Office by court. The OA will then determine if you are eligible for DRS.

Also, debtors whose bankruptcy applications are being reviewed by the court wish to choose for DRS instead – they may apply to have bankruptcy proceedings to be put off in the span of 6 months.

The list of documents to apply for an order of bankruptcy and Debt Repayment Scheme includes the following documents which can be found on the website of the Ministry of Law:

  • Debtor’s/Creditor’s Bankruptcy Application,
  • Affidavit Verifying the Statement of Affairs,
  • Statement of Affairs,
  • Supporting Affidavit,
  • Debt Repayment Plan,
  • Debtor’s Supporting Documents.

couple doing calculation

What are the Duties as a Debtor under the DRS?​

  • Apart from staying consistent with your repayments following your DRP, you are also obliged to fulfil the following:
  • Declare to the OA your property;
  • Declare to the OA any discarding of your property within the 5 years before the start of the bankruptcy procedures against you before the finishing date of the DRS;
  • Be present at any meetings with your creditors as arranged by the OA anytime (unless you are prevented by an illness or other sufficient cause);
  • Not engage into other debt over $1,000 without providing information on your DRS status to the lender
  • Keep the OA updated of your current residential information as well as other required contact details
  • Be transparent and truthful when providing your information to the OA
  • Assure that all proof of debts lodge by your creditors are accurate; and
  • Obey with the orders of the OA of things in relation to the DRS

Things to Consider Before Applying for Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS)​

Debtors will be handed a Certificate of Completion upon successfully repaying all of the debts as per in the DRP. The Certificate of Completion will free you from debts attestable under the DRS except for debts:

– That you had not disclosed to the OA; or

– Of which If you have been a conforming proof was not filed by the creditor.

When found to make flawed representations that help the approval of DRS or failure to disclose needed information – the OA is rightful to issue a Revocation of the Certificate of Completion.

On the other hand, failure to repay your debts as per filed by creditors in DRP, or failure to be compliant with your duties as debtor – the DRS will be cut off and the OA will be rightful to issue you a Certificate of Failure.

Upon the issuance, your creditors will get to make new bankruptcy proceedings against you.

Other than that, be reminded that the OA may charge you an administration fee for your DRS case. 

Some of the costs include:

  •  $300 as the first annual fee (for the first 2 years, and $350 for subsequent 3 years)
  • $250 for the meeting of creditors
  • 1.5% of total amount collected (as a collection fee to the OA)
  • 3% of amount distributed (as a fee to the OA for distributing dividends to creditors)

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 to 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.

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