SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) on Tuesday (Mar 1) confirmed it has appointed KPMG as its accountants.
In a press release, the Town Council's chairman Pritam Singh said: "AHTC believes that KPMG is the most suitable firm and is capable of performing an independent and objective review."
The appointment comes after the Court ordered AHTC to select accountants from among the Big Four accounting firms, he added.
The appointed team is expected to put up its first monthly report by Apr 15, Mr Singh said.
The Supreme Court had on Jan 22 orderedthe Town Council to nominate a Big Four accounting firm after the Housing and Development Board (HDB) had rejected the party's nomination of Mr Kelvin Thio and Mr Terence Ng from Ardent Accounting.
AHTC subsequently requested for more time in providing information on its proposed accountants on Feb 5, with Mr Singh saying then that the Town Council had initiated contact with one of the Big Four firms on Jan 23, a day after the Supreme Court ruling.
Last November, Singapore's highest court ordered AHTC to appoint accountants to fix any accounting and governance lapses at the former Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council. After the General Election in 2015, the single-seat ward of Punggol East was returned to the People's Action Party, giving rise to AHTC.
SAFEGUARDS AGAINST CONFLICT OF INTEREST AGREED ON: HDB
In response to AHTC's announcement on the appointment, HDB noted that KMPG had made conflict disclosures in its business proposal, as its managing partner Tham Sai Choy sits on the HDB Board. The accounting firm proposed safeguards to AHTC to address potential concerns of conflict of interest.
HDB said the opposition-run town council has agreed that the safeguards to ensure the objectivity of KMPG's engagement are "adequate". Mr Tham has also declared his interest to the HDB Board and has recused himself from any deliberation and decision-making relating to AHTC, HDB said.
The housing board said that since the conflict disclosures have been made clear and appropriate safeguards have been accepted by parties involved, HDB has in-principle no objection to the appointment of KPMG.
"We look forward to AHTC giving its fullest cooperation to its accountants, including full and unimpeded access to the relevant records and personnel, so that the tasks ordered by the Court of Appeal can be completed expeditiously," said HDB.