Punggol East's accounts 'must be reviewed after handover'

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council says it is a court order; WP says accounts seen last year

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) said yesterday that it hopes its accountant can work with the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council's (AHTC) accountant to look into the books of Punggol East.

In a statement yesterday, PRPTC said it has to comply with a court order to review Punggol East's accounts after taking over the single-member constituency from the former Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

PRPTC added that it was in the interests of Punggol East's residents to get to the bottom of things. "We look forward to KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) working together to inquire into whether any past payments made by AHPETC had been improper and ought to be recovered," it said.

The town council was responding to comments by AHTC chairman Pritam Singh last Wednesday.

Since the constituency changed hands - the People's Action Party won it from the Workers' Party (WP) in last September's General Election - PRPTC and AHTC have disagreed over several issues such as sinking funds and the constituency's accounts.

PRPTC reiterated that since it has taken over Punggol East, it has to comply with a Court of Appeal order made last December requiring the WP-run town council to appoint accountants to establish if past payments made were improper. AHTC appointed KPMG for the job.

The court order follows the Auditor-General finding serious lapses at the town council.

Last Wednesday, Mr Singh said KPMG's review already covers Punggol East's accounts.

He said a request for documents by PRPTC's accountant, PwC, would lead to duplicate work for AHTC and KPMG. He added that AHTC wanted to focus on its work with KPMG.

Responding to this, PRPTC said it had appointed PwC only after AHTC turned down its request last December to jointly appoint KPMG.

It added that there would be no duplication of work as the documents can be shared between accountants. "AHTC's explanation that it wishes to focus on KPMG's work makes no sense because all it needs to do is to give a simple written authorisation to KPMG to share the documents with PwC," it said.

PRPTC also confirmed that it has received a total of $20 million in sinking fund transfers from AHTC, but said it does not know when AHTC would transfer the rest of the funds due to Punggol East.

Mr Singh had said a final transfer of any remaining sinking funds would be done once the audited accounts are ready.

PRPTC said AHTC had not stated the "definitive" date when the transfer would be done. It added: "We look forward to AHTC's satisfactory conclusion of the audit of its accounts, so that it can finally complete the transfer of the remaining sums that it owes to Punggol East."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Punggol East's accounts 'must be reviewed after handover''. Print Edition | Subscribe