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Auditor-General flags lapses in public sector

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The Auditor-General's Office has completed its annual audit of the country's public sector, uncovering another slew of irregularities and lapses in various ministries and statutory boards.

THE Auditor-General's Office (AGO) in Singapore has completed its annual audit of the country's public sector, uncovering another slew of irregularities and lapses in various ministries and statutory boards.

In his 72-page report, Auditor-General Willie Tan singled out four areas which public sector entities could pay greater attention to and make improvements in. These include the way grants are administered, the tendering and management of revenue contracts, the management of contract variations, and related party transactions.

He also expressed "concern" over the lack of documentation on decisions, actions taken and matters with significant financial implications in the areas audited.

The Infocomm Development Authority, for instance, was found to have used funds totalling S$9.3 million from the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Finance for two projects without first getting the green light from the two ministries.

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The AGO also discovered that the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) erred in how it administered three different government grants.

Besides failing to ensure that its programme partner and training providers followed the audit requirements for the use of the grants, there were also over-disbursements of grants worth S$170,100 and delays in the recovery of unused grants estimated at S$461,000.

As a result, the AGO said that "there was a risk that grants disbursed might not have achieved their intended purposes", and that any delays in submitting audit reports would impede WDA's ability to take prompt corrective action on any reported lapse.

The AGO noted that all the audits give assurance to the President and Parliament on the proper accounting, management and use of public resources.

"In the process, they strengthen the accountability of public sector entities as custodians and stewards of public resources," said Mr Tan.

He added that as the AGO's audits were conducted on a test-check basis, they do not reveal every single problem out there.

"However, they should help to uncover some of the serious lapses. The irregularities and weaknesses uncovered do not necessarily reflect the general state of administration in the entities audited, but point to the areas where improvement should be made in the accounting, management and use of public resources," he said.

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