People's Association to enhance financial management course for community leaders

People's Association deputy chairman Chan Chun Sing (middle) touring the classes at Nacli and speaking to participants.
People's Association deputy chairman Chan Chun Sing (middle) touring the classes at Nacli and speaking to participants. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - New programmes to help grassroots leaders and People's Association (PA) staff play a bigger role in solving community issues have been introduced, including an improved financial management course.

In July 2015, an Auditor-General's Office (AGO) report rapped the PA for lapses in accounting procedures at various grassroots organisations under its purview.

On Wednesday, PA's deputy chairman Chan Chun Sing announced that the organisation's training arm, the National Community Leadership Institute (Nacli), aims to offer 1,000 courses this year, up from 900 last year. Some 250 are new, while another 350 will have their curricula revamped.

Many of the new and revamped programmes, which range from half a day to two days long, feature scenario-based training and small discussion groups that include both grassroots leaders and constituency office staff. This comes as part of a shift in PA's role from organiser to mobiliser, said Mr Chan.

Speaking at Nacli's West Coast campus in Buona Vista, he said: "Last time we would try to solve the problems for you. But going forward the approach will be to solve the problems with you."

One of the courses that has been enhanced is a grassroots financial management course, which now uses case studies to help "understand why common errors occur and how we can improve the system", said Mr Chan.

Referring to last year's AGO report on PA's lapses in accounting procedures, Mr Chan said that the organisation has since adopted a two-pronged approach to manage the problem.

"We must evolve the system to make it as simple as possible, bearing in mind that the people using it are volunteers and not professionals. Many processes have been simplified," said Mr Chan, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and labour chief.

The other component is training, he said, which includes things such as how to make deviations due to exigencies of requirements without breaking the rules.

"The grassroots volunteers go beyond the normal call of duty out of the goodness of their heart, so we must make sure that the system supports their good intentions," he said.