Workers' Party town council submits one set of overdue accounts

The Workers' Party town council submitted its overdue accounts for financial year 2013/2014 yesterday, which was the deadline for it set by the Ministry of National Development (MND).

Mr Png Eng Huat, a vice-chairman of Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), confirmed this to The Straits Times last night.

The AHPETC still owes the MND accounts for financial year 2014/2015. These have to be submitted by Aug 31.

The deadlines were given by the ministry in February, during a heated parliamentary debate when it said the state of affairs at AHPETC was "clearly unacceptable".

The move by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan was in response to the town council citing the special audit it had to undergo from the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) as a reason for the delay.

The AGO was called in after AHPETC's own auditors said for two years in a row that they could not give the town council accounts a clean bill of health.

Its report, debated in Parliament this February, unearthed accounting and governance lapses at the town council. These included potential conflicts of interest arising from key AHPETC staff being co-owners of its managing agent, FM Solutions and Services.

The town council hired two accounting firms a month later to help it manage its books and clean up its past accounts.

They are Business Assurance, which is its financial consultant, and Audit Alliance, which is auditing its past accounts.

The ministry, concerned about AHPETC financial processes, has withheld $14 million in grants from the town council.

In a move to safeguard the money, it applied to the High Court to appoint independent accountants as a condition for giving the grants.

The court turned down its application in May, but the judge also criticised the town council for its lapses in governance.

The ministry has appealed against the court decision. The appeal is scheduled to be heard at the Court of Appeal on Aug 3.

This article was first published on July 1, 2015.
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