Which accountant will manage Workers’ Party run town council’s finances and inspect its books? According to The Straits Times, the opposition held town council and Housing & Development Board (HDB) are not able to come to an agreement on this.
The town council, Aljunied Hougang Town Council (AHTC), has now applied to address the Court of Appeal “on the appointment of accountants and on costs”. The case has been scheduled for next Thursday.
In 2014, the Government had asked the Auditor-General to do a special audit on the opposition party run town council 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.
Both the Ministry of National Development (MND) and HDB have said that it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue at this stage as it is before the Court, but AHTC chairman Pritam Singh said that the town council has applied to the Court of Appeal for further instructions.
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