$4.65m given to town councils to implement Covid-19 safe management measures

MND had been providing funding to town councils for carrying out SMMs at town council-managed facilities since April 7, 2020, when the measures came into effect. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of National Development (MND) provided $4.65 million in funding to town councils from April 1 to Dec 31, 2021, to implement safe management measures (SMMs).

National Development Minister Desmond Lee disclosed the figure in a written response to a parliamentary question last month and said the 17 town councils had submitted claims of $4.66 million in total.

The financial year started on April 1, 2021, and ends on March 31 this year.

The difference between amounts claimed and given out was due to town councils submitting claims that had either exceeded the cost caps or were for non-claimable items, Mr Lee added.

MND had been providing funding to town councils for carrying out SMMs at town council-managed hawker centres, wet markets and market produce shop clusters since April 7, 2020, when the measures came into effect.

"MND regularly reviews the cost caps and has increased the cap several times to reflect the additional requirements expected of town councils, as the Covid-19 situation and SMM guidelines evolve," Mr Lee said.

The cap was last increased on Dec 1 last year, when town councils were required to implement vaccination-differentiated SMMs at hawker centres.

When asked about details of the cost caps, an MND spokesman declined to comment.

The spokesman said: "As most town councils outsource the operations of their SMMs to external vendors, it could influence future quotes provided by vendors if information about the cost caps is made public."

For the 2020 financial year, town councils submitted claims of $1.38 million in total and MND disbursed $1.24 million in funding.

A Nee Soon Town Council spokesman told The Straits Times that the main costs it incurred for implementing SMMs were for manpower, and materials such as netting and barricades.

The spokesman declined to reveal the amount of funding the town council had received.

"The MND funding will cover the costs of these expenditure, unless it exceeds the cap. This will definitely help Nee Soon Town Council mitigate the additional costs," the spokesman added.

A spokesman for Ang Mo Kio Town Council said it appreciated MND's assistance to fund the costs of implementing SMMs at its nine wet markets and hawker centres.

"We will continue to work with the agencies to comply with the SMMs during this period," the spokesman said.

Workers' Party, which runs Aljunied-Hougang Town Council and Sengkang Town Council, declined to comment.

Bishan-Toa Payoh and Marsiling Yew-Tee Town Councils declined to comment, while Jalan Besar, Tampines, Marine Parade and Jurong-Clementi Town Councils have not responded to queries.

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