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AHPETC chairman responds to MND's statement

Friday, June 5, 2015 - 16:53

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THAT the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) wants to have government grants without conditions and accountability is a "gross misrepresentation" by the Ministry of National Development (MND), AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim said in a statement on Friday.

THAT the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) wants to have government grants without conditions and accountability is a "gross misrepresentation" by the Ministry of National Development (MND), AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim said in a statement on Friday.

She was responding to MND's statement on Thursday which explained the latter's decision to expedite its appeal against a High Court decision not to appoint independent accountants at AHPETC run by the Workers' Party (WP).

"From the onset of the High Court case, AHPETC had written to MND that it accepted that the Town Councils Act enabled the Minister to set conditions on the disbursement of grants to Town Councils," said Ms Lim.

AHPETC then went further to agree to most of the conditions that MND had proposed for the disbursement of the grants for FY14/15 and FY15/16, she added.

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"To-date, only two issues remain: the identity of external accountants to co-sign cheques drawing on the grants, and AHPETC's request for the entire grant for FY14/15 to be placed in its sinking funds," Ms Lim noted.

The High Court Judge had noted that in his view, the remaining issues were minor and technical, and could be overcome, and he further urged parties to reach a consensus so that the grants could be disbursed as soon as possible, she said.

"Instead of heeding the Judge's advice, MND filed an appeal against the judgment within 48 hours."

She added: "Be that as it may, AHPETC will still want to work with MND to resolve the remaining issues relating to the grants amounting to about S$14 million expeditiously and out of court."

AHPETC agreed to an expedited appeal as it wishes to have finality and to move on from the litigation, which is a distraction and also a drain on the Town Council's precious resources, said Ms Lim.

She noted that AHPETC disagrees with MND's reasons for the expedited appeal.

"AHPETC is continuing to review its financial and control processes. AHPETC also notes the decision of the High Court that there is no legal basis for MND to apply to court to impose conditions on the grants, and no legal basis for independent accountants to be appointed to carry out inquiries into AHPETC's past transactions," said Ms Lim.

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