Channel NewsAsia

MINDEF cited in Auditor-General's Report for lapses in management of land

No end date for licence agreement for Sembawang Country Club, while a private contractor was allowed to use State land leased at a nominal fee for commercial purposes, according to the report.

SINGAPORE: In the Auditor-General's Report released on Thursday (July 17), the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) was cited for two of the four lapses identified in the area of Management of Land and Assets. 

A piece of State land was licensed to Sembawang Country Club in 1994 for use as a golf course. The licence agreement did not specify an end date, even though the licence should not exceed three years, according to State Land Rules.

Also, the country club sublet 6,842 sq m of wooded land within the golf course that was not covered by the licence to a contractor - tantamount to unauthorised letting of State land, the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) said. MINDEF says the club is looking into the matter.

Furthermore, under the agreement, the club was to maintain the wooded area despite it not being within its licensed area. However, discarded vehicles, heavy machinery and waste were dumped there. The waste items have since been removed.

GETTING FAIR MARKET VALUE

MINDEF had a licence agreement to rent 109 hectares of land from the Public Utilities Board in 1971 for S$68 a year; in 1995, the ministry subsequently entered into a licence agreement to sublet part of that land to its contractor for S$45 a year, solely for the purpose of providing services to MINDEF.

However, the AGO noted that there were increases in the land area used by the ministry, as well as changes to how it was being used, which were not incorporated into the licence agreement.

In response, MINDEF told the AGO that it has since entered a new agreement with the PUB, with a revised annual rent of S$5.43 million for 127 hectares of land.

Also, the nominal rental fee sublet plot of land remained at S$45 - below fair market value - even after the contractor was privatised in 2000 and was using the land for commercial activities beyond providing services for MINDEF. A new agreement has since been signed, with the annual rent for the land set at S$830,000.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority was also cited for the under-utilisation of land, buildings and facilities, as well as assets being underutilised or left unused.

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna