In 2014, the Government had asked the Auditor-General to do a special audit on the Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC) after it was unable to fulfill mandatory requirements satisfactorily. A special audit was subsequently carried out by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO), and AGO was assisted by PwC.
The AGO’s Report found lapses in governance and compliance by the town council. The Ministry subsequently wanted to appoint PwC to manage the town council’s finances.
When the town council disagreed with the Ministry on the appointment of that auditing firm because AHTC felt that the appointment of PwC will lead to perceptions of bias, the case went to court.
In the long drawn out saga, the Court of Appeal ruled in November last year that AHTC must appoint independent accountants to help it address shortcomings raised earlier by the Accountant General’s Report, and to make all outstanding transfers to its sinking fund within three months. It also ruled that the appointment of the accountant would have to be approved by the HDB.
HDB however cannot unreasonably withhold its consent, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon when delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The opposition held town council and Housing & Development Board (HDB) were not able to come to an agreement on which accountant will manage Workers’ Party run town council’s finances and inspect its books, and so the matter went to Court.
Today the Court rejected the town council’s nomination of its own accountants, and ruled that AHTC has to nominate a “Big 4” accounting firm.
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