Some of the lapses discovered

ITE was one of the three educational institutions which either did not charge or charged below market rate for the use of their carparks.
ITE was one of the three educational institutions which either did not charge or charged below market rate for the use of their carparks.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Health Ministry had wrongly computed the amount of rental subsidy it gives to restructured hospitals and institutions, resulting in overpayment of $2.07 million in the last three financial years.

The reason for the error is that it included an empty building and a carpark in its computation, when the policy is to give discounted rent only for land and buildings used by subsidised patients.

Research space in 13 institutions was also funded by two departments in the ministry, resulting in one department disbursing $7.05 million and the other $28.3 million in the same three years.

The ministry could not show proof there was no overpayment. It informed the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) that the errors have been corrected and action has been taken to ensure the research space would not be double-funded.

Recurring lack of price checks

The National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) organised two overseas events in 2013 and last year that cost $6.79 million. However, it did not ensure $1.51 million worth of goods and services procured on its behalf by vendors were priced reasonably.

Such a lapse was flagged in the 2012 AGO report, and NPTD said then that it would carry out market checks for future events.

The latest failure is thus a recurring lapse.

However, NPTD said it was not feasible to require its vendor to source every item through competitive bidding and that prices had also been compared across various bidders at the tender evaluation stage.

The AGO pointed out that there was no indication of this in the tender report.

Projects funded by grants meant for other uses

Two projects under the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) were paid for using $9.3 million from the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the Ministry of Finance without the approval of either ministry.

The i-Space project to revamp an exhibition in the Singapore Science Centre, and an initiative to develop the Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre were funded using unused grants that had earlier been disbursed to IDA for other projects. This showed a lack of accountability in the use of funds by IDA, said the AGO.

IDA said it would seek MCI's advice on the approving authority for future changes of funding source.

Subsidised charging for carparks

Three educational institutes either did not charge or charged below market rate for the use of their carparks.

Institute of Technical Education carparks were free, while Singapore Polytechnic (SP) did not charge for motorcycle parking. Both SP and Temasek Polytechnic (TP) capped the daily amount paid by some users such as staff. Such practices amount to giving hidden subsidies and are not in line with government rules. The estimated licence fee foregone at SP was $120,000 a year. At TP, the parking fee foregone was $590,600 for a six-month period.

The institutes are reviewing their parking charges.

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Some of the lapses discovered'. Print Edition | Subscribe