SINGAPORE: The Ministry of National Development (MND) will be disbursing the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) operating grants for FY 2014/15 and FY 2015/16 to Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC), it said on Thursday (Apr 14).
“MND will be disbursing approximately $12.9 million to AHTC and $1.8 million to PRPTC,” a spokesperson said.
The announcement came a day ahead of a deadline that the Workers' Party-run AHTC had promised to observe to make its remaining sinking fund transfer. Town councils must fulfil sinking fund obligations for S&CC operating grants to be released.
The ministry had earlier withheld the grants from the AHPETC in view of the many weaknesses and lapses in AHPETC identified by its own auditors and the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) report dated Feb 6, 2015, it said. AHPETC became AHTC after the Workers' Party lost the single-seat ward of Punggol East to the People's Action Party after the 2015 General Election.
Following AHTC's move to appoint accountants from the Big Four firms in Singapore by order of the Court of Appeal, the Minister for National Development decided to disburse the grants to AHTC, subject to conditions, MND said. These include setting up segregated bank accounts to receive the grants and getting the accountant(s) to co-authorise and co-sign large payments out of these accounts.
"AHTC has since appointed KPMG LLP as its accountant and confirmed that it fully accepts all conditions set by MND in relation to the grants. With these safeguards in place, MND will be disbursing the grants to AHTC," MND said.
The ministry added that following the 2015 GE, all assets, rights and liabilities pertaining to Punggol East SMC have been transferred from AHTC to PRPTC with effect from Dec 1, 2015. "This legal position is set out in the Town Councils (Declaration of Towns) Order 2015. Accordingly, the operating grants attributable to Punggol East SMC will be disbursed to PRPTC," MND stated.