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AHPETC case: Why MND has 'no choice' but to apply to High Court for swift resolution on its appeal
THE Ministry of National Development (MND) on Friday said it had "no choice" but to apply to the High Court for a swift resolution on its appeal against the Court's decision not to appoint independent accountants at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) run by the Workers' Party (WP).
It said this in response to AHPETC's statement on Friday, made in response to MND's statement on Thursday, which had explained why it wanted to expedite its appeal.
Said the ministry: "MND has reached out to AHPETC to offer to disburse the S&CC grants with safeguards, but AHPETC has consistently ignored MND's offers."
First, AHPETC's request for the entire FY14/15 grant to be placed in its sinking funds is unusual, as ordinarily, in line with the Town Councils Act and Rules, the grant ought to be split between sinking fund and operating fund components, said MND.
Notwithstanding this, on May 2, 2015, MND said it had informed AHPETC that MND is prepared to consider its suggestion. "We asked AHPETC for the reason for its request, and its cash flow information, to ensure that its proposal, if acceded to, will not affect delivery of essential services to residents."
However, MND said AHPETC has to-date ignored MND's offer. "AHPETC wants the grants, but refuses to answer reasonable and legitimate questions, to ensure accountability for public funds."
Said MND: "This is a repeat of what happened in 2014. AHPETC told MND that it needed the grants critically, but when MND offered AHPETC half-grants, and asked that Sylvia Lim declare that the cash-flow information she earlier provided to MND was true, she did not take up the offer."
Moreover, AHPETC continues to disagree with the proposed appointment of PwC as Independent Accountants (IAs), even though the High Court Judge found no basis for AHPETC's objection, said MND.
Notwithstanding this, on May 2, 2015, MND said it had informed AHPETC that MND is prepared to consider other candidates it may have, and invited AHPETC to propose names and CVs. "Again, AHPETC has to-date not responded to MND's offer."
Third, AHPETC continues to resist the appointment of IAs to examine past payments and recover any lost monies, even though this is in the residents' interest, said MND.
"The Judge observed that it 'is probably right in that any conditions imposed by the Minister will be unacceptable to AHPETC and this will result in further court proceedings'. MND has thus no choice but to apply to Court for a swift resolution," MND said.