WP town council says it has transferred $10 million more of Punggol East's sinking funds to PAP town council

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council located at Block 701 Hougang Avenue 2.
Aljunied-Hougang Town Council located at Block 701 Hougang Avenue 2. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The Worker's Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) had authorised the transfer of another $10 million in sinking funds to Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC), said AHTC chairman Pritam Singh on Wednesday (June 1) night.

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 AHTC. The constituency came under PRPTC after the People's Action Party won it back from the WP in last September's general election.

Since the change of hands, issues have arisen over the transfer of funds. PRPTC said that AHTC had not handed over all of the sinking funds to date, and AHTC said it was merely following past practice and paying by instalments.

In a statement, Mr Singh said: "A final transfer of any remaining sinking funds attributable to Punggol East single-member constituency will be made to PRPTC once the audited accounts for Punggol East are ready."

 

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

On Tuesday, PRPTC said it had appointed Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the task. But the town council added that the accountant was unable to proceed as AHTC had not handed over "additional documents" needed.

To this, 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 had last December ordered the WP town council to appoint accountants to look into its books and establish if past payments made were improper.

It follows the Auditor-General finding serious financial and governance lapses at the town council.

On Tuesday, PRPTC said since it had taken over the management of Punggol East, it too had to comply with the court order to get to the bottom of the constituency's accounts.

However, Mr Singh said that AHTC had already appointed a team from KPMG to carry out the review under the court order. He added that KPMG's job scope includes looking at payments made from 2011 to 2015, which covers the period when Punggol East was under the town council's management.

Yet, he said, PRPTC had appointed PwC independently.

"This 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 had replied to Mr Zainal on April 19 to say that AHTC would respond to PRPTC's request for documents after a management meeting.

AHTC subsequently put up a request for the documents at its May town council meeting, he said.

However, AHTC's town councillors decided that the town council "ought to focus its fullest attention on the KPMG review", said Mr Singh adding that he had informed Mr Zainal about this 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.

It also said that some legacy issues of the WP town council may affect the accuracy of Punggol East's accounts, including inadequacies in accounting systems. This may affect the accounts and opening balances to be transferred to PRPTC.

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