Move to ban foreign vehicles with unpaid toll

The move to bar foreign vehicles with unpaid toll fees from entering or leaving Singapore comes after the LTA was rapped for undercollecting up to $14 million in charges. The Transport Ministry says LTA's collection system at the checkpoints was not
The move to bar foreign vehicles with unpaid toll fees from entering or leaving Singapore comes after the LTA was rapped for undercollecting up to $14 million in charges. The Transport Ministry says LTA's collection system at the checkpoints was not linked to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and the agencies will begin a trial linking their systems.ST FILE PHOTO

Foreign vehicles with unpaid toll charges and fees will soon be banned from entering Singapore or from leaving the country.

Changes to the law will be made to bar such vehicles, a report on public funds released by Parliament said yesterday.

The planned measure comes after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) was rapped by the Auditor-General last year for undercollecting up to $14 million in charges.

The report said the Ministry of Transport explained that LTA's collection system at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints was not linked to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. This let motorists clear immigration without paying the correct fees.

The agencies will begin a trial linking their collection systems by financial year (FY) 2016/17, and fully implement this in the following year.

Several other government agencies have also made changes to address their lapses in governance and procurement.

These lapses were first flagged by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) in its annual audit of public agencies for FY2015/16.

In its report out yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a parliamentary watchdog on public funds, outlined how it had scrutinised irregularities and asked ministries how they had corrected them.

The PAC, chaired by East Coast GRC MP Jessica Tan, and whose eight members include Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, called on agencies to address the underlying problems that led to the lapses.

It urged them not to go with piecemeal fixes that might result only in more red tape and higher costs, but to find holistic solutions that are effective and efficient.

For example, ministries can redesign an entire system or make better use of technology to address the fundamental causes of the lapses.

"Heads of agencies should set the tone at the top to ensure adherence to processes and controls as part of good governance," the report said.

The PAC noted four areas of concern: Inadequate financial controls, a proper governance framework not being in place, lack of oversight of the administration of schemes and lapses in management of contracts.

Other lapses flagged included the high fee paid to consultants for the Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall bin centre. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) told the PAC it had reiterated that evaluations of whether quoted fees were reasonable should be included in approval documents.

The PAC also followed up on lapses uncovered in the AGO report for FY2014/15, such as related-party transactions in grassroots bodies.

MCCY told the PAC it had put in place measures to manage conflicts of interest. Circulars were issued to remind all grassroots leaders to declare conflicts of interest, and they were reminded once a quarter of the importance of doing so.

Since January last year, grassroots leaders have also been reminded at the start of every meeting to declare conflicts of interest and leave the meeting when these arise.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Move to ban foreign vehicles with unpaid toll'. Print Edition | Subscribe