SINGAPORE - The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has appointed an external accounting firm to help it clean up its earlier accounts, chairman Sylvia Lim announced in an update on the town council's website on Saturday.
The firm will also "give advice on strengthening (AHPETC's) internal controls and processes in financial management, and on internal audit matters", she added.
The move comes after a special audit by the Auditor-General's Office found accounting and governance lapses at the Workers' Party (WP)-run town council, including key AHPETC staff being co-owners of its managing agent FMSS. The audit's findings were released in February.
Ms Lim, who is also WP chairman, revealed in Saturday's update that AHPETC had engaged the accounting firm on March 3, about two weeks after Parliament held a two-day debate over the lapses at the only opposition-run town council.
On March 20, the Ministry of National Development (MND) applied to the High Court to appoint independent accountants to oversee government grants given to AHPETC and to conduct a forensic audit of its accounts.
In the update, Ms Lim also reassured residents that AHPETC is “working hard” to file its FY 2013/14 accounts by June 30 and its FY 2014/15 accounts by Aug 31, deadlines that were set earlier by MND.
She said the town council will be sending letters to its residents “clarifying some misconceptions” of the AGO report and Parliamentary debate, as well as some key points it wished to highlight.
“Due to the importance of the subject, we have taken some time to prepare this letter,” she said, adding that "the past months have been challenging, but AHPETC remains undaunted".
"At the heart of it all, AHPETC’s Members of Parliament from the Workers’ Party are mindful of our duty to be accountable to you, the residents who have put us in office to serve," Ms Lim added. "You have supported us, and we will do our best despite the challenges we face. Thank you for your concern and understanding."