WP town council 'served residents well'

The Workers' Party-run Aljunied- Hougang-Punggol East Town Council brushed aside its poor ratings in an annual report on how town councils are managed, and pointed instead to how well it did in areas that had an impact on residents' lives.

Town council vice-chairman Png Eng Huat said in a telephone interview yesterday that the National Development Ministry's report showed the council "did pretty well in the areas of cleanliness, maintenance and lift performance".

"There are areas with red bands that we acknowledge, and we are looking into how to improve them going forward."

The council was the only one of 16 to receive a red banding - the worst rating - for management of service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears, and corporate governance. It received an amber rating for estate maintenance, along with 10 other councils.

The report, covering the financial year from April last year to March this year, assesses town councils' performance in five areas.

Pointing to the green - or best rating - it received for estate cleanliness and lift performance, Mr Png said: "The most important thing is we still will work hard to keep the estate clean and maintain it well. Things like living conditions, the environment, are very important.

The lifts as well. When you have a breakdown, you really need to get it fixed ASAP. These are things we will certainly improve on."

Mr Png, MP for Hougang, declined to say why the council scored red in two areas: "There is a detailed report we are studying. We are still looking into it so I can't comment further."

The report noted that nearly three in 10 households under the council had overdue S&CC for three months or more. It said the "sharp decline" in the council's S&CC arrears situation was "of grave public concern".

Asked if the level of overdue charges would affect the council's work, Mr Png said the arrears rate may not be up to date as the figure in the report was from April last year.

From May last year, the council also stopped sending its monthly S&CC arrears report to the ministry despite reminders. Asked why, he said it had "prioritised resources for the Auditor- General's Office (AGO) audit".

In February, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam directed the AGO to look into the council's accounts, after an independent auditor raised questions over the reliability and accuracy of its financial and accounting systems.


This article was first published on Nov 7, 2014.
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