Wanted: Feedback on Town Council Act changes

Town councils may soon be required to notify residents and the Ministry of National Development (MND) of key appointments like its chairman or general manager.

They would also have to set up a dedicated fund to replace lifts, and not take part in financial activities that detract from their core function of managing public housing estates, like operating its own commercial fairs.

These are among 12 amendments to the Town Councils Act, which is expected to be updated by the end of the year and for which the MND is seeking public feedback.

The wide-ranging changes clarify the roles of town councils and are expected to improve governance and strengthen how they manage finances, as well as give the ministry more regulatory oversight.

The long-awaited review was first mooted in May 2013.

It was raised again last February after a debate on the Auditor-General's special report flagged major problems in the Workers' Party's town council's finances.

After the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) reported a sharp rise in arrears in April 2013, it stopped submitting its monthly arrears reports for almost two years.

Currently, MND has no power to compel town councils to give information on its finances and there are no penalties if a town council refuses to do so.

But if the proposals are accepted, town councils must submit their audited financial statements to MND within six months after the close of the financial year, or risk being penalised.

Members of the public can give their feedback on the changes till Nov 17, the MND said in a statement yesterday.

MND added that the proposed amendments "seek to ensure that TCs deliver essential public services in a consistent, fair and sustainable way that serves the interest of residents, while retaining the autonomous nature of TCs".


For details of the proposed amendments, visit www.reach.gov.sg

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