THE government will amend the Town Councils Act to address the weaknesses in the current regulatory framework, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Thursday.
This will ensure that the town councillors, including the elected MPs, carry out their duties properly. If they don't, he added, a proper system of enforcement and penalties will be instituted.
Mr Khaw was speaking during a motion to "note with concern" the recent findings from the Auditor-General's Report on the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council's financial accounts.
"We can no longer take the light touch and assume that all MPs running town councils will be responsible," he said, noting that there is a need to ensure that proper systems, accountability and governance are in order to safeguard the interests of residents.
The amended Town Councils Act, when passed by Parliament, will cover three key areas. First, it will make clear that town councils are subordinate to and must comply with the authority of public law and of government agencies charged with enforcing the law.
Second, the government will also strengthen the corporate governance and financial accountability of town councils, to ensure that town councils plan and use their finances in a sustainable way.
Third, the National Development Ministry will have stronger regulatory oversight with powers to collect information and conduct investigations. The ministry will also be equipped with a stricter penalty framework.
Mr Khaw shared that Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan was already working on the necessary amendments and will table the bill after next month's Committee of Supply debate.