MND to review Town Councils Act

Trial: between the National Environment Agency and the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

To better safeguard residents' interests, the Ministry of National Development (MND) is reviewing the Town Councils Act to strengthen regulatory oversight.

The ministry said this yesterday in response to questions from the media, and discussion online, linked to the financial position of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), reported Channel NewsAsia.

In addition to clarifying the formula used to determine the amount of government grants received by town councils, MND reiterated that AHPETC's financial position had deteriorated rapidly, based on the town council's own financial statements.

MND said it does not know the current state of arrears for AHPETC because the town council had stopped submitting a report on its service and conservancy charges arrears after April last year.

The ministry has no power to compel town councils to submit information and there are no penalties if a town council refuses to do so. Currently, only three offences attract fines: the misuse of council funds, contravention of the lift upgrading programme rules and wilful withholding of information required by an auditor, MND said, adding that this is because councils "are supposed to be directly accountable to their residents".

This article was first published on November 21, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.