Parliament: PA takes financial governance seriously, has taken action to set things right: Lim Swee Say

The People's Association takes its financial governance seriously, said its deputy chairman Lim Swee Say (above) in Parliament.
The People's Association takes its financial governance seriously, said its deputy chairman Lim Swee Say (above) in Parliament. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE- The People's Association takes its financial governance seriously as a statutory board managing public funds, its deputy chairman Lim Swee Say told Parliament.

And while it cannot completely eradicate human error, being vigilant means lapses are the exceptions rather than the norm.

The PA made news last month after the Auditor-General's Office highlighted several lapses in the management and tendering of contracts, as well as related party transactions, among a number of grassroots organisations.

Workers' Party MP Png Eng Huat (Hougang) asked for more details on these lapses, and on Monday, Mr Lim, who is Manpower Minister, provided more details on claims made by the chairman of the Citizens Consultative Committee in Sembawang GRC's Admiralty ward.

The seven claims that the CCC chairman made to himself included: one case of "immediate financial assistance" for a needy family at a funeral wake; a working dinner and appreciation dinner for volunteers and community partners; and four claims for workplan retreats.

Mr Lim said the claim for financial assistance to the needy family at the wake had no supporting document, but the amount was witnessed by a few volunteers who were present.

Meanwhile, the two claims for the working and appreciation dinners were backed by receipts, as was one of the four claims related to workplan retreats.

Original receipts for the other three claims amounting to $56,050 were misplaced but the CCC had subsequently verified the amounts claimed with proof of payment from the vendor.

 

Mr Lim said: "Although there was no evidence of dishonesty, the CCC chairman concerned has taken personal responsibility for these lapses and resigned from his position."

The CCC chairman involved was not named, but he is Mr Tonic Oh.

Mr Lim also gave details of 13 tenancy contracts by community centre or club management committees(CCMCs) which amounted to $3.67 million, that were awarded without seeking prior approval from the PA HQ for waiver of tender.

These were : five contracts by two community clubs with poor locations to provide children enrichment, food and entertainment services; one contract for the installation of an ATM machine by a local bank; one contract for the renewal and continuation of childcare services; three contracts for the introduction of new community lifestyle concepts in the neighbourhood; two contracts for food outlets and another for a non-profit community organisation that promotes healthy lifestyles for senior residents.

"Notwithstanding the good intentions of the CCMCs in bringing in these services for the benefit of residents and that they had benchmarked the rental rates offered against similar rental rates in the area, they did contravene the financial rules of PA in not seeking prior approval from PA HQ for the waiver of tender," Mr Lim said.

"PA acknowledges our shortcomings in this area and has taken immediate steps to enhance compliance," he added.

He also said that the PA takes its financial governance seriously and the last time it received an "adverse opinion" in the annual statutory audit was in FY2012 - when the grassroots organisations' accounts were not included in PA's financial statements.

"We have taken swift and decisive action to put things right immediately. When things go wrong, we do not shy away from taking responsibility and tough action to put things in order," Mr Lim added.