AHTC: Last of Punggol East sinking funds to be transferred after audit

An audit of Punggol East's accounts is underway, and the final portion of its sinking funds will be transferred to the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) once it is completed, said Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) chairman Pritam Singh yesterday.

He did not want to give an estimated date of when this would be, but added that it should not take longer than 20 months from last September's general election.

Mr Singh, who was recently made assistant secretary-general of the Workers' Party, said one of his key priorities is to address the governance and financial lapses at AHTC identified by the Auditor-General's Office in a special audit.

AHTC was ordered last December by the Court of Appeal to appoint an independent accountant to establish if past payments made were improper, and hired KPMG.

"I intend to... bring (the town council) on an even keel by virtue of ensuring the KPMG audit is successfully completed," he said.

He pointed out that when the WP won Punggol East in a by-election in 2013, PRPTC only transferred the final instalment of sinking funds to the WP-run town council after 20 months.

The People's Action Party won back the constituency in last September's general election.

Mr Singh said he did not forsee AHTC taking "so long" to make the final transfer. He added that he did not want to "jump the gun" before the audit report is done, but said: "I don't foresee any reasons to delay purposely or intentionally. It doesn't serve any function."

PRPTC chairman Zainal Sapari had said previously that his town council had transferred $18 million in sinking funds to the WP-run Town Council within four months of the 2013 by-election. A third transfer of $3 million was made in May 2014. The final $890,092 was transferred in September 2014.

AHTC has transferred $20 million in sinking funds to PRPTC so far. Mr Singh said what remains is "usually your few dollars and cents at the end".

Speaking to reporters after a walkabout in his Eunos ward, he said he became a full-time MP shortly before last year's polls to focus on party responsibilities and AHTC.

On his new appointment, he said: "There are a lot of younger members and we want to move forward as a collective leadership."

He said WP chief Low Thia Khiang has been the face of the party over the years as he has "single-handedly transformed the party, changed the perception of the party, made it into a more disciplined party".

"You will see a move away from one person... Not that Mr Low controls the party as one, but you will see a move to a whole team," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'AHTC: Last of Punggol East sinking funds to be transferred after audit'. Print Edition | Subscribe