AHTC, PRPTC tangle over access to accounts

AHTC, PRPTC tangle over access to accounts
Aljunied Hougang Town Council. TODAY file photo
Published: 11:40 PM, July 8, 2016
Updated: 11:43 PM, July 8, 2016

SINGAPORE – Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) have been told to work out between themselves on the access to documents on accounts, specifically, relating to Punggol East Single Member Constituency, whose management has switched from the Workers’ Party to the People’s Action Party after last year’s General Election.

The two entities went to court because PRPTC wanted to independently review if past payments from Punggol East were proper, but AHTC responded that its appointed accountant KPMG is in the midst of carrying out this work.

The Court of Appeal on Friday (July 8) ruled that PRPTC has an interest in the outcome of the work carried out by KPMG – Punggol East was subsumed under it after the PAP won the seat last year.

AHTC had been ordered to appoint an accountant to look into its books in November last year to identify non-compliances with the Town Councils Act and advise it on remedial steps to be taken, as well as establish whether any of its past payments were improper. This was sparked by a special audit that uncovered major lapses in governance and compliance in the town council.

Both AHTC and the Housing and Development Board issued statements on the matter on Friday.

The HDB said it has an interest to ensure that the November court orders are properly complied with.

AHTC chairman Pritam Singh said that his PRPTC counterpart Zainal Sapari’s request to hand over all documents and information would “effectively duplicate the work of KPMG”.

He added that AHTC has released a second tranche of sinking funds belonging to Punggol East SMC earlier this week, amounting to a total of S$20 million so far. “A final transfer of any remaining sinking funds attributable to Punggol East SMC will be made to PRPGTC once the audited accounts of Punggol East SMC are ready.”

The HDB, however, said that it had suggested the two town councils jointly appoint accountants to carry out the review ordered by the court. This was rejected by AHTC.

“Had AHTC agreed to HDB’s suggestion to work with PRPTC to jointly appoint one set of accountants, there would not have been the need for PRPTC to appoint PwC separately,” the statement read.

Punggol East MP Charles Chong also commented on the issue on his Facebook page, noting that AHTC has been denying its accountants access to their accounts for more than seven months.

“My question is, what is it that they have been afraid of all this while? Our residents’ funds are involved and all we are doing is to make sure that our residents’ monies haven’t been misused,” Mr Chong added.