【国会发言】新加坡合作社要动用储备金来支付股息,不是一件简单的事

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2024年4月3日,新加坡贸工部兼文化、社区及青年部政务部长陈圣辉在国会对合作社动用储备金支付股息,需要通过哪些审批机制的问题,做出了回答。

 

新加坡合作社要动用储备金来支付股息,不是一件简单的事

陈圣辉

新加坡贸工部兼文化、社区及青年部政务部长

丹戎巴葛集选区议员

 

以下内容为新加坡眼根据国会英文资料翻译整理:

 

 

新加坡贸工部兼文化、社区、青年部政务部长陈圣辉:议长先生,在回答议员们的问题之前,我想借此机会对您多年来在合作社发展过程中和您担任国家合作社联合会(SNCF)主席期间的贡献表示感谢、认同和赞赏。议员们已经非常坚定、深刻认同合作社在新加坡社会发展中的贡献,因此,谢谢您这些年所做的工作。

 

首先我要谈谈动用储备金的保障措施的必要性问题。议员李坚辉把合作社动用储备金支付股息和一般公司从留存收益中支付股息进行了比较,他还提到,这对合作社特别是信用合作社来说可能是一个问题,因为动用储备金会减少它们的机构资本,从而降低它们的资本充足率(CAR)。议员李坚辉还问到当合作社用储备金来支付股息时,有哪些保障措施来确保这样的决定是审慎的。

 

当前,合作社只能用当年的盈余来支付股息。我们建议在获得注册官批准后,合作社将被许可动用储备金来支付股息和酬金。合作社仅可动用其一般的、未分配的储备金,如“累计盈余”和专门用于支付股息或酬金的储备金。我们将发布指南明确这一事项。

 

我也同意议员李坚辉先生关于合作社必须保持充足的缓冲资本和要保障成员利益的观点。用储备金支付股息或酬金的保障措施有两层。

 

首先,合作社必须取得注册官的批准。注册官也要综合考量有关因素,诸如与往年相比,提议的利率是否合理,过往的合规记录,管理的能力,尤其是信用合作社必须同时证明在支付提议的股息或酬金后,它们能够满足现行的最低资本充足率。其次,合作社的这一决定必须得到它的成员的批准。

 

第二类问题涉及注册官的批准过程。议员尼尔·帕雷克、议员黄文鸿和议员叶汉荣提出了有关从储备金中支付的批准程序及其影响的问题。

 

注册官将向合作社发布指南,这些指南将为合作社设定明确的条件,说明合作社需要提交或提供给注册官的信息和文件。注册官可以集中审查满足这些条件的合作社。

 

在获得注册官的批准后,合作社必须在其年度股东大会上通过特定决议来获得成员的批准,同时也确保了储备金使用信息的充分披露。成员可以参考合作社提交的审计财务报表,这使得他们能够在做出决策前了解这些支付对储备金的财务影响(如有)。合作社必须在财年结束后的六个月内召开年度股东大会,因此有足够的时间在召开年度股东大会之前获得注册官的批准。

 

议员叶汉荣还提议建立审查和监控机制,确保法案变更后仍能够达到其预期目标。我们将监督变革后的实施情况,并适时在需要的地方,改进行政程序,以促进合作社的运作,并保证保障措施的到位。

 

第三类问题涉及议员关于审查股息上限的提问。在现行法律框架下,合作社每年支付的股息不得超过实缴股本或认购资本的10%。

 

议员朱倍庆询问国家文化、社区及青年部(MCCY)是否可以允许管理较好的合作社向其成员分配更多的股息。叶议员询问我们是否可以采用差异化的方法,为管理良好的合作社提供更多的灵活性。

 

我想对此做出两点说明。首先,正如大家所知,基于合作社的结构和社会使命,它们与其他公司有着本质的不同。合作社的储备金是通过过去和现在的合作社管理人员和成员的集体努力,经过多年慢慢积累起来的。这些储备金对合作社稳定运营非常重要,帮助他们应对任何损失或不可预见事件影响。因此,合作社在使用其储备金时必须非常谨慎。

 

现行的10%股息上限旨在帮助合作社实现其首要的财务稳健发展和可持续性,同时履行其社会使命和目标和满足其成员的特定需求。虽然一些人可能会将合作社的股息支付与其他公司的股息支付进行比较,但大多数大型上市公司的股息收益率通常不会超过10%。合作社的股息上限也反映了其在为成员提供可观回报与保留资金用于经营增长二者之间的平衡,因此,现行的上限对大多数合作社来说是足够的。

 

其次,我们认识到合作社涉及行业的广泛多样性。一些合作社规模大且运营专业,而另一些则规模较小,主要由志愿者运营。自然地,它们的管理能力和储备金的规模存在差异。国家文化、社区、青年部将进一步研究,以评估如何满足不同类型合作社的需求,同时确保有足够的保障措施来保护成员的利益以及合作社的长期财务稳健和可持续发展。

 

第四类问题涉及修改法规以促进合作社的运作。我将谈谈在促进合作社运行方面,两项法案的保障措施。议员黄文鸿和议员叶汉荣问到,减少申请注册章程修正案所需签名的提议将如何影响问责制,确保权利不被滥用。

 

依据现行立法要求,章程修正案首先需要在会员大会中获得成员批准。召开会员大会时,修正案的决议必须由出席并参加投票的成员中至少四分之三的成员通过。合作社必须随后提交大会决议的摘录以及申请表,确保合作社已按照规定程序召开会员大会,并且成员已正式批准了修正案。多数合作社在将章程修正案提交会员大会之前,也会征求注册机构的意见。这一惯例将保持下去。

新加坡合作社要动用储备金来支付股息,不是一件简单的事

以下是英文质询内容:

The Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth (Mr Alvin Tan):

First, let me address the need for the safeguards for use of reserves. Mr Mark Lee commented that allowing co-ops to pay dividends from their reserves contrasts with the corporate practice of paying out dividends only from retained profits. He made a comparison. Mr Mark Lee also noted that this may be of concern for credit co-ops particularly given that the drawdown of reserves would reduce their institutional capital and therefore their CAR. Mr Mark Lee also asked about the safeguards to help credit co-ops make prudent decisions as they pay dividends from their reserves.

Currently, a co-op may only pay dividends from the preceding year’s surplus. We propose to allow them to tap their reserves to pay dividends and honoraria, subject to the Registrar’s approval. This will allow co-ops to tap only on their general, unallocated reserves, such as the “Accumulated Surplus” and reserves allocated specifically to the payment of dividends or honoraria as the case may be. This will be made clear to co-ops through issued guidelines.

I also agree with Mr Mark Lee that credit co-ops must maintain adequate capital buffers and ensure adequate safeguards to protect members’ interests. There are two layers of safeguards over using reserves to pay dividends or honoraria.

First, co-ops must seek the Registrar’s approval. The Registrar will also consider factors, like reasonableness of proposed rates compared to previous years, past compliance track records of the co-op’s, strength of governance and particularly for credit co-ops, if these credit co-ops have met prudential requirements. Credit co-ops must also demonstrate that they can meet the prevailing minimum CAR after their proposed dividend or honoraria payment. Second, of course, co-ops must obtain members’ approval.

Moving on to the second category of questions on the process for Registrar’s approval, Mr Neil Parekh, Mr Don Wee and Mr Yip Hon Weng asked questions regarding the obtaining of Registrar’s approval for payment from reserves and the impact that this approval may have.

The Registrar will issue guidelines to co-ops on the information and documents that co-ops need to submit or provide to the Registrar. These will set clear expectations for co-ops on the pre-requisites for the application and allow the Registry to focus on co-ops which satisfy the pre-requisites.

Upon receiving Registrar’s approval, the co-op must seek members’ approval with a specific resolution at their AGM. This will ensure adequate disclosure on the proposed use of reserves. Members will also be able to refer to the co-op’s audited financial statements, which will also be tabled for members’ approval. This enables members to understand the financial impact of such payments on the reserves, if any, before making an informed decision. Co-ops must hold their AGMs within six months from the financial year-end, so there is enough time for them to obtain Registrar’s approval before conducting their AGM.

Mr Yip Hon Weng also proposed a review and monitoring mechanism to ensure that this and other legislative changes are meeting their intended objectives. We will monitor implementation of the new changes and will refine the administrative processes over time, if and where necessary, and this is to facilitate co-ops’ operations and to ensure that there are adequate safeguards in place.

The third category refers to Members’ questions on the review of the dividend cap. Under the current legislative framework, a co-op must not pay a dividend on paid-up share capital or subscription capital exceeding 10% per annum. Mr Choo asked if MCCY can allow better governed co-ops to distribute more to their members. Mr Yip asked if we can apply a differentiated approach to allow for more flexibility for co-ops with better fiduciary governance.

I thought it was important for me to make two points to these suggestions. First, as Members already know, co-ops are uniquely different from other corporates due to their membership-based structure and social mission. Co-ops’ reserves are built up slowly over years through collective efforts by past and present co-op officers and members. These reserves are therefore very critical for them to meet any losses or operational needs due to unforeseen events. Co-ops must therefore very be prudent when using their reserves.

The current 10% dividend seeks to help co-ops to prioritise their long-term financial health and sustainability, while fulfilling their social mission and objectives, and also their members’ specific needs. While some may compare dividend payments to that of other corporates, the dividend yields for most larger public listed companies typically do not exceed 10%. The dividend cap for co-ops also reflects a balance between providing decent returns to their members and retaining funds for co-ops’ operations and growth. As such, the current cap would generally be adequate for co-ops.

Second, we recognise the broad diversity of our co-op sector. Some are large-scale and professionally run, while others are smaller and mainly volunteer-run. Naturally, governance capabilities and the size of reserves across this whole spectrum vary. MCCY will study this further to assess how to meet the needs of different types of co-ops across this spectrum, while ensuring adequate safeguards to protect members’ interests as well as co-ops’ long-term financial health and sustainability.

The fourth category of questions relate to amendments to facilitate co-ops’ operations. I will now address queries on the safeguards for two amendments aimed at facilitating co-ops’ operations. Mr Don Wee and Mr Yip Hon Weng asked how the proposed reduction of signatories required for an application to register by-law amendments would impact accountability and also to prevent abuse.

Sir, the legislation will continue to require amendments to by-laws to first be approved by members at a general meeting or a referendum. In the case of a general meeting, the resolution to make amendments must be passed by at least three-quarters of the members present and voting. The co-op must thereafter submit an extract of the resolution of the general meeting to the Registrar together with the application form. This will help ensure that the co-op had followed due process in calling for the general meeting and that members have duly approved the amendments. Most co-ops would also have sought Registry’s comments on the proposed by-law amendments prior to tabling them at the general meeting. We will continue with this general practice.

 

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新加坡合作社要动用储备金来支付股息,不是一件简单的事

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