News report by The Business Times

By: Glass of Joy  15/08/2009
Keywords: Food & Beverage Services, Food & Beverage Outlets, Wine

Thu, May 07, 2009
The Business Times

S'pore Customs finds solution for wine maker

By VICTOR KATHEYAS

HAVING read about the health benefits of wine and vinegar, Grace Lim decided to
try her hand at making them for her husband, who was in poor health at the time.
She quickly found she had a knack for making wine and vinegars, as well as
related products like jams and spreads. And eventually, after many compliments
from friends and family, she decided to turn her hobby into a business.
She registered her business, Glass of Joy, hired a professional designer to work on
branding and logo and rented a stall in a food centre to support the initial,
small-scale operation.

But there was one problem: The $28,000 a year licence fee to produce wine was
prohibitive.

Ms Lim trawled the Internet in search of a government agency that could help her.
And after numerous phone calls, she was directed to the Pro-Enterprise Panel
(PEP).

In her submission to the PEP, she urged Singapore Customs (SC) to 'review and
reduce the fees to help small businesses such as mine, especially in this difficult
time'.

And SC did just that.

Winston Tay, head of schemes promotion and administration at SC, said: 'SC has
always been supportive of entrepreneurial efforts in Singapore and aims to work
with businesses to help them realise their proposals, especially small and
medium-size enterprises (SMEs).'

After learning more about Ms Lim's business model, which entailed producing wine
by 'simple fermentation in jars at a hawker stall', SC realised that the scale of
production and relatively simple manufacturing process necessitated a customised
solution, said Mr Tay.

So SC worked with Ms Lim to introduce new internal controls and accounting
procedures, and was able to allow her a much lower licence fee of $5,000 a year,
reviewed annually.

'SC will strive even harder to help crisis-hit businesses get through the downturn
and partner them to work out feasible solutions,' Mr Tay said.

Businesses that want to make a suggestion to the Pro-Enterprise Panel on how to
cut red tape can do so at www.pep.gov.sg

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