Singapore

All 16 town councils submit clean accounts to ministry

Workers' Party's AHTC has clean financial statements for first time in eight years

For the first time in eight years, the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) run by the Workers' Party submitted clean accounts to the National Development Ministry, making this year a stellar occasion with all 16 town councils doing so.

The ministry disclosed the turnaround at AHTC yesterday when it released the latest Town Council Management Report (TCMR) for the period from April 2018 to March this year.

But the ministry also said it has asked AHTC why it did not require WP MPs Sylvia Lim and Low Thia Khiang to recuse themselves from financial decisions at the town council, after both were found by a judge to have breached their fiduciary duties in awarding a managing agent contract without tender.

The ministry also said that from the 2020 financial year, the lift performance indicator will be revised to consider such factors as the frequency and duration of lift faults.

"This will serve as a more direct measure of the experience of residents in using their lifts," it said.

The annual TCMR appraises town councils in five areas: estate cleanliness, estate maintenance, lift performance, management of arrears in service and conservancy charges (S&CC) and corporate governance.

This year, all were banded green, the best grade, in two areas: ensuring lifts did not break down too often and in collecting S&CC.

In fact, 12 town councils got all green grades, compared to eight last year.

Of the town councils with amber grades, AHTC and Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC) got two each, while Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council and Tampines Town Council got one each.

The annual TCMR was introduced in 2010 to spur performance of town councils, but some have dismissed it as politically motivated with opposition-run town councils having scored badly.

Since 2011, AHTC had submitted audited financial statements that were qualified by its auditors.

But not this year.

It helped AHTC get a green score for corporate governance, which measures compliance with the law in areas like awarding tenders.

The two areas in which AHTC got an amber grade were estate cleanliness and maintenance. This is based on data collected by Housing Board officers during estate inspections, and covers factors like whether corridors are obstructed.

Both JCTC and Tampines Town Council also got amber in estate maintenance.

Meanwhile, JCTC and Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council were graded amber in corporate governance.

Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council had collected charges for the use of the outdoor display area at Bangkit Art Street by retailers.

This goes beyond the provisions of the Town Councils (Use of Common Property) Rules, which requires that such areas be for incidental use by existing businesses.

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