KPMG, the auditors of opposition-run town council said that they found “pervasive control failures” in its accounts and work processes over the past five years. The report said that the Workers’ Party (WP) town council’s weaknesses cover key areas like governance, financial control, financial reporting, procurement and records management. KPMG recommended that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) “reset the tone at the top of AHTC” in order to emphasise competence and accountability.
AHTC said that it chose to publish all the KPMG reports released since 15 April 2016, even though it was not obliged to do so. The town council claimed that it specifically requested KPMG to publish the 70 additional lapses it identified in the course of its engagement since April 2016, even though KPMG had not intended to detail them in its report. The remedial measures AHTC has undertaken since the 70 additional lapses were identified were also highlighted in the July report. (The July report is here: http://bit.ly/2a7Jk3l)
Mr Pritam Singh, AHTC’s Chairman, said that his town council accepted all the recommendations in full. He added that his MPs “will immediately lead an exercise to review the key areas of governance, financial control, financial reporting, procurement and records management”.
Commenting in his Facebook about KPMG’s report, Law and Home Affairs Minister, Mr K Shanmugam said that it paints “a devastating account of the Workers’ Party’s mismanagement of its town council”.
He described the findings as “a damning litany of highly irregular and suspicious financial practices, poor governance structures and extensive leadership failures”.
Claiming that AHTC’s lapses were not isolated, but rather “pervasive” and “systemic”, the Minister said that the report underlines that AHTC’s leadership has neither upheld nor enforced integrity and ethical values.
He added: “The rot is at the top. This should come as no surprise.”
Referring to Mr Shanmugam’s comments, Mr Singh said that they were speculative.
The MP said: “The review of Past Payments is still ongoing and KPMG expect a full report to be released to AHTC at the end of August 2016. Therefore, it is not helpful to speculate or jump the gun.”
Adding: “The public can be assured that AHTC will publish the Past Payments Report, like all previous KPMG reports for scrutiny in full, and AHTC will take any necessary action thereafter.”
Several commenters on Mr Shanmugam’s Facebook suggested that the Government should report the matter to Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) or the Commercial Affairs Department.
The WP had in 2013 challenged the PAP to make a report to the CPIB if it believed that the WP had mismanaged the Town Council. To date, the People’s Action Party (PAP) has not taken up the opposition party’s challenge.
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