Aljunied-Hougang Town Council

$10m funds transfer for Punggol East authorised

The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council has authorised the transfer of another $10 million in sinking funds to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.
The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council has authorised the transfer of another $10 million in sinking funds to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.PHOTO: ST FILE

Total sum transferred to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council is now $20m: Pritam Singh

The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), run by the Workers' Party (WP), has authorised the transfer of another $10 million in sinking funds to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC), said AHTC chairman Pritam Singh.

This brings the total sum of sinking funds transferred to PRPTC to $20 million, he added.

The money belongs to Punggol East constituency, which used to be under the former Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council. It is now under the PRPTC after the People's Action Party won it back in last September's general election.

After the change of hands, issues arose over the transfer of funds. PRPTC said AHTC has not handed over all of the sinking funds to date, and AHTC said it is following past practice and paying by instalments.

Mr Singh said, in his statement on Wednesday, that his town council will make a final transfer of any remaining sinking funds due to Punggol East once the constituency's audited accounts are ready.

He also addressed a review of Punggol East's accounts that was initiated by PRPTC.

On Tuesday, PRPTC said it has appointed Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) for the task, but the accountant was unable to proceed as AHTC has not handed over "additional documents" that were needed.

Mr Singh said: "This characterisation of the number of documents PRPTC requires is misleading."

He said PRPTC chairman Zainal Sapari had in fact asked for "all documents and information that AHTC had made available for the Court of Appeal-mandated review".

The apex court ordered the WP town council last December to appoint accountants to look into its books and establish if past payments made were improper. The order came after the Auditor-General found serious financial and governance lapses at the town council.

On Tuesday, PRPTC said that since it has taken over Punggol East's management, it too has to comply with the court order on the constituency's accounts.

Mr Singh, however, said AHTC has already appointed a team from KPMG under the court order.

KPMG's job scope includes looking at payments made from 2011 to last year, which covers the period Punggol East was under the WP town council, he added.

PRPTC appointing PwC independently "would effectively duplicate the work of KPMG and, separately, require AHTC to commit resources devoted to the KPMG review to attend to PRPTC's requests", he said.

Despite this, he said, he and his town council did consider Mr Zainal's request for documents, and it was put up at a May town council meeting. He said he informed Mr Zainal on April 19 that it would be discussed at the meeting.

AHTC's town councillors decided the town council "ought to focus its fullest attention on the KPMG review", said Mr Singh, adding that he told Mr Zainal about it on May 25.

PwC, in a progress report last month, said it needed additional documents from AHTC to get an accurate picture of Punggol East's financial situation.

On Tuesday, PRPTC said it owed a duty to its residents to ensure all was in order. It also said it wants to ensure all the property and rights due to it have been transferred.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline '$10m funds transfer for Punggol East authorised'. Print Edition | Subscribe