PARLIAMENT

Debate In 2 Minutes

Yesterday's Parliament sitting set in motion the birth of four statutory boards, with the passing of four Bills that detailed their purpose. These were the: Singapore Workforce Development Agency (Amendment) Bill, SkillsFuture Singapore Agency Bill, Info-communications Media Development Authority Bill and Government Technology Agency Bill.

The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) also came under fire from Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee and Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah about the state of its financial controls. The Auditor-General and AHTC's own accountant had found multiple lapses related to governance and compliance with the law.

Town council handover

An ongoing review of the Town Councils Act will look at the procedure for handing over town council accounts and documents to a rival party after an election, said Mr Desmond Lee. The new Act is scheduled to be ready for implementation by the end of the year.

Cause of lapses

Most lapses flagged in the latest AGO report were due to individual officers not following procedures, said Ms Indranee Rajah, adding that they do not reflect systemic weakness.

She also said there was "a world of difference" between the lapses found in public-sector agencies and at AHTC. She said the public accounts, for one, were reliable and accurate.

Train cracks assurance

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan reiterated that the hairline cracks found on 26 China-assembled MRT trains did not pose a safety risk.

Mr Khaw also said cracks were found last year on the underframe of train cars used on the Bukit Panjang LRT. A dozen have been rectified, with the rest to be fixed by October.

Four new agencies

Four bills were passed that will see three agencies restructured to form four new statutory boards.

The Workforce Development Agency will become Workforce Singapore (WSG) and SkillsFuture Singapore Agency (SSG).

WSG, which comes under the Manpower Ministry, will help workers and businesses adapt to changes and remain competitive. SSG, under the Education Ministry, will coordinate the national SkillsFuture movement.

The Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore and the Media Development Authority will be altered to form the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and GovTech.

IMDA will look after regulatory and policy initiatives in the infocomm and media sectors, while GovTech will coordinate information and communications technology plans across Government.

Tribunal for pay rows

By April next year, the new Employment Claims Tribunal will hear disputes on pay and perks between employers and workers at all salary levels.

Rachel Au-Yong

Correction note: An earlier version of this article referred to the Workforce Development Agency as the Workforce Development Authority. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Debate In 2 Minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe