Forum: Clear, proper control of government accounts needed

A worker outside the National Archives of Singapore along Canning Rise on Sept 7, 2020.
A worker outside the National Archives of Singapore along Canning Rise on Sept 7, 2020.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Auditor-General's Office's annual audit on government accounts released last week was appalling (Auditor-General flags lapses in IT controls, procurement and contract management in public agencies; NLB exceeded renovation budget by $1.72 million, JTC potentially sublet to 26,000 unapproved entities: AGO, both ST Online, Sept 7).

These show a lack of proper governance and internal controls to ensure consistency in accounting practices.

Among the lapses flagged by the AGO were gaps in the management of business grant programmes.

Earlier this year, Mr Liu Fook Thim in his Forum letter wrote of the need to figure out, of the myriad government initiatives rolled out, what worked and what did not, and hold grant recipients accountable (More analysis needed ahead of Budget 2020, Feb 18).

When we have too complex a web of grants for companies, it becomes more challenging to keep track of them all.

The public service, along with political appointees, need to set clear and proper internal control and governance practices.

Policies are meant to serve citizens well and ensure that everyone can benefit as much as possible.

Greater clarity in the administration of the various grants and schemes by the public service would go a long way in ensuring that taxpayers' money is put to its intended use and that the initiatives properly fulfil the objectives they were set up for.

Gerald Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2020, with the headline 'Clear, proper control of government accounts needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe