SINGAPORE: Following its review of 207 payments using a "dummy" supplier code, auditor KPMG has determined that the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) did not make any duplicate or fictitious payments, it said in its latest monthly progress report on the Workers' Party-run town council on Thursday (Aug 18).
The payments, amounting to S$271,598.20, were "supported by documentation relating to purchase and receipt of the goods and/or services", KPMG said.
The auditor added in its report that it noted "weak accounting procedures and supervision". In 41 instances totalling S$248,346.07, the supplier account rather than the "dummy" vendor code should have been used. Seven invoices totalling S$23,197.40 were paid "without the confirmation of the receipt of the goods and services".
In a statement on the AHTC website, the town council's chairman Pritam Singh said: "AHTC accepts the control shortcomings in the use of these codes and will be reviewing its processes to ensure their proper use in future."
The Supreme Court had ordered the Town Council to nominate a Big Four accounting firm to go through its accounts and help fix 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.
KPMG has since issued monthly reports on the town council's progress in mitigating identified shortfalls.
The latest report stated that AHTC has resolved three of 17 audit points raised, as of Aug 18, 2016. "Remedial measures (are) in progress" for the remaining 14.
KPMG also noted in its August report that AHTC needs to review and clear the 1,069,365 transactions recorded in 18 temporary clearing accounts. From July to August, AHTC has investigated 598 of these transactions so far, the report stated.
"AHTC needs to increase the available staff with the requisite expertise so that it could complete investigation prior to the migration of accounting data to AHTC’s new accounting system," KPMG said.
AHTC had said in July that it would award the contract for a new Town Council Accounting System "shortly".
UPDATE: In a subsequent media statement issued on Monday (Aug 22), KPMG clarified that it is still in the process of reviewing AHTC's past payments, and that it was "premature" to conclude that there were no duplicate or fictitious payments in the town council's books.
KPMG said that its monthly progress reports focused primarily on the functioning of internal controls to ensure compliance with the Town Councils Act. It said it is also working on identifying any improper payments made between May 27, 2011 and Nov 27, 2015 that ought to be recovered.
"This part of the work is still in progress and no report has yet been issued," the statement said. It added that the report, which focuses on past payments made by AHTC and its predecessor, the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council, will be issued on Aug 31 or on a date agreed by AHTC and the Housing and Development Board.