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MND’s observations on auditors' report will “mislead public”: Sylvia Lim

The Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has responded to a report by its independent auditors that raised concerns over the town council's latest financial statements for the financial year ended March 31, 2013.

SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has responded to a report by its independent auditors that raised concerns over the town council's latest financial statements for the financial year ended March 31, 2013.

In a media statement on Friday, town council chairman Sylvia Lim said that the Ministry of National Development’s (MND) observations on the auditors' report on Thursday were incomplete and would "mislead the public".

The town council also sought assistance from the MND to resolve the issues raised by the auditors, and welcomed an audit by MND if deemed necessary.

The independent auditors, from Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton, had said in a report that they are issuing a "disclaimer of opinion" with regard to the town council's financial statements, as they had not been able to obtain sufficient evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion.

The auditors had been unable to verify various items in the accounts amounting to over S$22 million, and had flagged 13 areas where they said insufficient information had been provided.

Those areas included the town council's opening balances, lift repair and lift upgrading expenses, as well as related party transactions.

In the AHPETC statement on Friday, Ms Lim said that the auditors had in fact given the town council a "qualified report", and that it was not an "adverse "report.

She said the auditors had stated that, apart from specific observations, the town council's books, accounts and records had been kept in accordance with the Town Councils Act.

She attributed the auditors' inability to verify certain figures to information gaps that existed at the time of the handover of the town council, following the 2011 General Election.

At that time, the auditors had not managed to obtain information from the former auditors. Ms Lim said that repeated attempts to obtain information from the former managing agent and government authorities were also unsuccessful.

This persisted in Financial Year 2012, and Ms Lim said that the information gaps would remain unless the required information is provided to the town council.

She also said that the MND could be the best party to assist the town council to resolve some of the key information gaps.

The auditors had also pointed out that the town council had not transferred any monies into its Sinking Funds as is required by the Town Councils Financial Rules.

Ms Lim acknowledged that the town council had committed an oversight in its practice of transferring monies to the Sinking Funds after deducting Sinking Funds expenses, and she said this has been rectified.

She said that the oversight had not resulted in any loss of monies nor unauthorized spending.

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