Singapore-listed companies have charted a new record in governance and transparency in 2020.

This is according to the annual Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI) published by CPA Australia, NUS Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) and Singapore Institute of Directors (SID).

In a joint release, they revealed the SGTI for 2020 surged to an all-time high score of 67.9 points, compared with 59.3 last year, which reflects their strong commitment to improving corporate governance and sustainability disclosures.

The index assesses companies on their corporate governance disclosure and practices, as well as the timeliness, accessibility and transparency of their financial results announcements.

This year’s index ranked a total of 577 Singapore-listed companies in the General category, and 45 Trusts in the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and Business Trust category.

SATS emerged at the top of the General Category with 131 points, dethroning SingTel (128 points), which had led the index for five consecutive years.  

Meanwhile, CapitaLand Commercial Trust remained top of the REIT and Business Trust Category, along with CapitaLand Mall Trust and Ascott Residence Trust in the top three positions.

In response, Lynette Leong, Chief Sustainability Officer at CapitaLand Group said, “We integrate sustainability in our business strategies throughout our real estate life cycle, and strong corporate governance is the cornerstone of our organisation’s resilience."

"Amid COVID-19, CapitaLand continues to be transparent with our stakeholders, proactively communicating key updates and ensuring the safety and well-being of our staff, tenants, customers and partners," she added.

The index also revealed most of the top 10 saw slight dips in their rankings, but SATS, City Developments, and Keppel Corporation improved. Another company which made notable improvements is SingPost, jumping up 20 places to 12th this year. 

As for the REIT and Business Trust category, Netlink NBN Trust, Cromwell European REIT, Manulife US REIT and OUE Commercial REIT each jumped over 20 spots to enter the top 10.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of CGIO at NUS Business School said it was “heartening” that the assessment process of listed companies for SGTI 2020 was not significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the necessary disclosures by companies were largely made well and on time,

He added, “On an even brighter note, companies have achieved remarkable progress as seen in the all-time high of the index score – this reflects the strong momentum driven by the ongoing regulation enhancements.” Overall, companies fared better in corporate governance disclosures compared to 2019. This is measured in terms of base scores, bonuses and penalties.

For the General category, companies recorded an average score of 67.9, an increase of 8.6 points year-on-year. Mean scores have been improving consistently since 2011, with the largest jump recorded this year.

In the REIT and Business Trust Category, the mean overall score increased by 6.2 points year-on-year to 84.8. Bonuses increased by 3.2 points to 17.2, while penalties decreased by 0.2 points to 5.0.