THE Government is not satisfied with the "state of procurement", and wants to see how it can be improved, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.
While a constant review of rules is important, what is essential is making sure that procurement officers are up to the mark, and that action is promptly taken when irregularities surface, he noted.
This includes taking disciplinary action against errant officers and taking matters to the courts when an offence is suspected, he said.
"The rules, by and large, are there, they're in the right shape. It is compliance with the rules... We've got to build up the competence of the officers."
Mr Tharman, who is also Minister for Finance, stressed the importance of independent audits, and that these are not done only in response to information received, but also as a routine function within the Government.
"On all fronts, we've got to stay alert, keep confidence in the public sector (and) keep confidence in the way we are using our funds," he said.
His comments come after the National Parks Board's controversial purchase of 26 Brompton foldable bicycles, which cost $2,200 each.
The case drew much criticism, leading to the suspension of the officer in charge of the procurement. This came after a National Development Ministry internal audit found "significant" discrepancies. Mr Tharman said the issue will be raised in Parliament today. He was speaking at the official opening of The Rink, an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink at JCube, in Jurong East.
The $6-million, non-profit facility is managed by CapitaMalls Asia, in partnership with the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), under the Community/Sports Facilities Scheme.
The scheme encourages the integration of community facilities in private commercial developments.
Yuhua MP Grace Fu and MPs for Jurong GRC, Mr Ang Wei Neng and Madam Halimah Yacob, officially launched the rink by hitting pucks to score against a well-padded goalkeeper. The goalkeeper was later unmasked: it was Mr Tharman, an MP for Jurong GRC.
The Rink has attracted over 80,000 visitors since its soft launch in April.
SSC chairman Richard Seow said the facility is part of a plan to make sports more accessible and interesting to the community, and added that, by exposing more people to the sport, "hopefully...we get a few who rise to the top and compete internationally".
Mr Tharman also spoke about the new ministerial committee, led by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, to conduct a broad-based review of government policies.
Mr Tharman urged people to give Mr Heng and the team "a blank slate".
He said: "We've got to give them a free hand to think through the issues (and) decide what's most important for Singapore's future."
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