Workers' Party town council will focus on getting 2013 accounts audited

The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council (AHPETC) at Block 701, Hougang Ave 2. Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim said its immediate priority is to get the town council's accounts audited and submitted to the Ministry of National Developme
The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council (AHPETC) at Block 701, Hougang Ave 2. Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim said its immediate priority is to get the town council's accounts audited and submitted to the Ministry of National Development. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The immediate priority of the Workers' Party (WP) town council is to get its accounts audited and submitted to the Ministry of National Development (MND), said its chairman Sylvia Lim on Monday.

Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) would try to do so by the June 30 deadline, she added.

Ms Lim, who is also chairman of AHPETC, was responding to reporters' questions on her party's next step, following calls by various ministers for it to take "concrete action" to make right the lapses discovered at its town council.

The Auditor-General's Office had, after a year-long audit, uncovered management and accounting lapses at the town council. The most glaring was its failure to properly manage conflicts of interest in dealings with its managing agent, FM Solutions & Service (FMSS).

The company's owners are WP supporters who also hold senior positions in the town council. There were multiple instances in which they had done work, certified it and approved payments to themselves, said the AGO in its report.

Several ministers had said in Parliament last week that FMSS overcharged the town council by $1.6 million a year for its managing agent fees. They said this went on for four years.

They called on the WP to recover the millions of dollars in public funds they over-paid to FMSS, and to order a forensic audit of AHPETC's accounts.

Over the weekend, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and Law Minister K. Shanmugam repeated these calls.

Asked on Monday night at her meet-the-people session in Serangoon North Ave 1 if her town council would take such actions, Ms Lim said she did not want to comment, adding: "We're focusing on our accounts right now."

She also declined to say if FMSS had spoken to the town council over the matter.

The town council was given a June 30 deadline to submit its 2013 accounts, which are late. It was also asked to submit its 2014 accounts by Aug 31.

Ms Lim said: "We will do our best to meet that deadline... we're looking to see how fast we can get this done."

On whether the party would run the town council on its own, since no one put in a bid for its tender call for a managing agent, Ms Lim said: "We're still keeping our options open."