Auditor-General finds several lapses in governance, compliance in audit of AHPETC

SINGAPORE - The Auditor-General has found several lapses in governance and compliance with the law in its audit of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

In a report made public today on the Ministry of National Development's (MND) website, it said that "AHPETC's Auditor, M/s Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton LLP, had submitted a disclaimer of opinion on AHPETC's FY2012-13 Financial Statements, raising 13 issues of concern over the Town Council's accounts. The Auditor also issued a qualified opinion on AHPETC's other legal and regulatory requirements, stating that AHPETC had not complied with the provisions of the Town Councils Act and Financial Rules in various respects."

"As stewards of public funds, all Town Councils must keep proper accounts and records, and ensure adequate control over their assets. The observations in AHPETC's Auditor's Report raised serious questions about the reliability and accuracy of its financial and accounting systems. It was the second consecutive year that the Auditor had submitted a disclaimer of opinion on AHPETC's Financial Statements. Moreover, the Auditor raised several more issues of pressing concern in the second year, compared to the first year," said the report.

The major lapses included failure to transfer monies into the sinking fund bank accounts as required by the Town Councils Financial Rules; inadequate oversight of related party transactions involving ownership interests of key officers, hence risking the integrity of such payments; not having a system to monitor arrears of conservancy and service charges accurately and hence there is no assurance that arrears are properly managed; poor internal controls, hence risking the loss of valuables, unnecessary expenditure as well as wrong payments for goods and services; and no proper system to ensure that documents were safeguarded and proper accounts and records were kept as required by the Town Councils Act.

The report also said that the MND will be moving a motion on the Auditor-General's report at the Parliament sitting on Feb 12, 2015.

Ms Sylvia Lim, Chairman of AHPETC said on its website that "the Town Council will give its response in Parliament".