WP 'focusing on accounts for audit'

 WP 'focusing on accounts for audit'
Sylvia Lim, Chairman of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), arriving at the State Courts for a trial between the National Environment Agency and the AHPETC.

The immediate priority of the Workers' Party (WP) town council is to get its accounts audited and submitted to the Ministry of National Development (MND) by the June 30 deadline, its chairman Sylvia Lim said yesterday.

"We will do our best to meet that deadline... we are looking to see how fast we can get this done," she said.

Ms Lim, who is also chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), was responding to reporters' questions about her party's next step following calls by several ministers for it to take "concrete action" to make right the lapses discovered at its town council.

The Auditor-General's Office (AGO) had, after a year-long audit, uncovered management and accounting lapses at the town council. The most glaring was its failure to properly manage conflicts of interest in dealings with its managing agent, FM Solutions & Services (FMSS).

The company's owners are WP supporters who also hold senior positions in the town council. There were multiple instances in which they had done work, certified it and approved payments to themselves, the AGO said in its report.

Several ministers said in Parliament last week that FMSS overcharged the town council by $1.6 million a year, over four years, for its managing agent fees.

They called on the WP to recover the millions of dollars in public funds it overpaid to FMSS, and to order a forensic audit of AHPETC's accounts.

In an article for The Straits Times today, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan repeated these calls.

Asked yesterday at her meet-the-people session if her town council would do so, Ms Lim declined to comment.

She also did not want to say if FMSS had spoken to the town council over the matter.

She said: "We are focusing on our accounts right now."

AHPETC was given a June 30 deadline to submit its 2013 accounts, which are late. It was also asked to submit its 2014 accounts by Aug 31.

On whether the WP would run the town council on its own as no one had put in a bid in its tender call for managing agent, Ms Lim said: "We are still keeping our options open."


This article was first published on Feb 17, 2015.
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