The Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) has flagged the Ministry of Health (MOH) for spending S$4.08 million dollars on “supervisory staff” for the construction of Ng Teng Fong Hospital without verifying the need or reasonableness for this expenditure. MOH also did not seek appropriate approval from its approval authority for this expenditure.
MOH’s payment of another S$30.09 million to hospital contractors made for contract variations was marked by the AGO for being inadequately scrutinised by the appropriate authorities. It had been revealed that the agent employed by MOH had not complied by the Ministry’s requirements that payments under S$80,000 be approved by two signatories and that payments over S$80,000 be approved by three signatories when the agent sought approval by only one staff.
The AGO said, “The lack of required level of checks increased the risk of fraud. The fact that MOH was not aware of the agent’s non-compliance indicated that it did not exercise adequate oversight on the agent.”
The AGO also faulted MOH for irregularities in managing 40 variation works in 10 other projects. Again, approval for these works was not sought from the appropriate authorities and in many instances, work commenced before formal approval was given. The variation works amount to S$3.76 million.
Besides this, the Ministry was flagged for wrongful payments made under the ElderCare Fund which is meant for subsiding nursing homes run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations. MOH had overpaid S$48,000 to two service providers and underpaid two other service providers by S$12,300.
MOH has been headed by Minister Gan Kim Yong since 2011. It has said that there are no indications of fraud or corruption that warrant further investigation, adding that it has since introduced additional checks to avoid such discrepancies in future audits.