Hiring over qualified professionals led to NAC paying $410K consultancy fee for $470K bin

generic picture of bin centre

Blogger Ryan Ong tried to explain in his Facebook about how a bin centre consultation cost $410,000. He was referring to the Auditor General’s Office Report that flagged the National Arts Council (NAC) for spending that amount of money, which it described as “exceptionally high”, to construct a $470,000 bin centre.

The blogger said: “Remember that it’s part of an overall redevelopment project for Victoria Theatre / Victoria Concert Hall. The people thus being consulted are high level architects, interior designers, and master engineers. There is a minimum fee for these consultants, and it is going to be high. In this case, people qualified to build skyscrapers and preserve monuments were hired to give their advice on building a garbage dump.

To put it in context: if you insist on seeing a top specialist because you have a mild flu, you could end up paying $700 instead of a $12 consultation. So it is quite possible to pay $410,000 on expert advice to build a bin centre. Just as you could pay Marc Jacobs $200,000 to design your left sock. If you choose to hire someone overqualified, you pay the price.”

It is indeed possible that the bin centre construction was part of the refurbishment efforts of the Victoria Theatre and the Victoria Concert Hall by the NAC. The refurbishment efforts of both venues were completed in 2014, and NAC referred to them in their 2014/2015 Annual Report (link: http://bit.ly/2asuEOC). It was this period’s accounts AGO must have test checked for its Report.

If it was so, these were the key consultants appointed for the refurbishment, restoration and redevelopment of the two buildings (link: http://bit.ly/2apvUUf).

  • W Architects Pte Ltd
  • Arup Singapore Pte Ltd
  • T.Y.Lin International Pte Ltd
  • Rider Levett Bucknall LLP, Singapore

And these were the people involved in the Steering Committee of the refurbishment efforts.


NAC which was then under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts is now part of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). MCCY explaining the “exceptionally high” consultancy fee said that when approval was sought to draw down the funds, it did not use the normal method (a percentage of the construction cost), but benchmarked the fee for building the bin centre against other more complex projects, which was why the fee was high.

It further said: “the construction of the bin centre for this project was more complex and required significantly more design expertise, technical consultancy services and effort to coordinate with multiple parties.” The Ministry pledged to adopt the normal method to assess consultancy fees in future development projects.

Netizens have asked MCCY to be more transparent with the public about how complex the construction of NAC’s bin centre really was.