Workers' Party rejects latest government statement on town council rates

Aljunied-Hougang Town Council at Block 701, Hougang Avenue 2. A dispute between the Workers'Party (WP) and the Ministry of National Development (MND) over how each party calculates the managing agent rates paid by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (A
Aljunied-Hougang Town Council at Block 701, Hougang Avenue 2. A dispute between the Workers'Party (WP) and the Ministry of National Development (MND) over how each party calculates the managing agent rates paid by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) shows no sign of letting up, with WP firing its latest salvo on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 afternoon. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A dispute between the Workers' Party (WP) and the Ministry of National Development (MND) over how each party calculates the managing agent rates paid by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) shows no sign of letting up, with WP firing its latest salvo on Wednesday afternoon.

It rejected MND's statement on Tuesday night that the WP method of computing managing agent rates gave an "incomplete picture". In a statement on Wednesday, WP and town council chairman Sylvia Lim presented figures showing that using MND's method, AHTC's managing agent rates were still lower than those given by the ministry

Earlier on Tuesday, WP had presented the rates charged by AHTC's managing agent, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS), according to the number of residential units it manages. However, MND later disputed this method, saying it computes the rates according to the total number of residential and commercial units the agent is contracted to manage for the town council. This is because the town council collects service and conservancy charges from both types of properties, it said.

On Wednesday, Ms Lim said that using MND's method, the managing agent rate charged by FMSS for FY2012 was $7.58 per unit, just 4.55 per cent higher than the $7.25 the former managing agent of the People's Action Party-run Aljunied Town Council would have charged for FY2012 if they continued to provide their services. FMSS took over from CPG Facilities Management as managing agent in 2011 after the WP won Aljunied GRC in the general election.

The rates for both FMSS and CPG were slightly higher than the rates for residential units issued by Ms Lim on Tuesday. However, the FMSS rate of $7.58 is still lower than the $8.04 per unit rate cited by MND and National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan earlier. On Monday, Mr Khaw said FMSS charged 20 per cent more in managing agent rates for FY2011 compared to the rate CPG charged the year before.

"We continue to be puzzled by MND's assertion that our Managing Agent's rate is 20 per cent higher than the rate under the PAP for Aljunied Town," said Ms Lim on Wednesday. She reiterated that the scope of services provided by FMSS was larger than the previous administration's and that AHTC had commissioned an audit before awarding the managing agent tender to FMSS in 2012.