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SINGAPORE GENERAL ELECTION

AHPETC says it awaits evidence on 'surplus'

It says claim of Punggol East council surplus misleading, insists it was in deficit at time of handover

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The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council on Tuesday claimed it has not received "any clarification" over an alleged deficit position of Punggol East when it was absorbed by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

Singapore

THE Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council on Tuesday claimed it has not received "any clarification" over an alleged deficit position of Punggol East when it was absorbed by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

The town council was referring to a statement made in late August by Charles Chong, the candidate for the People's Action Party (PAP) in the Punggol East single-member constituency (SMC). He said in a Lianhe Zaobao report that Punggol East had approximately S$1 million of surplus. The Workers' Party (WP) candidate Lee Li Lian won the Punggol East by-elections in January 2013; she is standing for elections there again.

Mr Chong's comment was disputed by WP chief Low Thia Khiang at a rally speech. He said the accounts showed Punggol East town council had a S$280,000 deficit when it was handed to the WP.

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"We have seen no supporting evidence for Mr Chong's claim that there was a surplus of S$1 million in the accounts of Punggol East SMC at the point of merger into AHPETC. Mr Chong's statement is misleading and AHPETC is obliged to set the record straight," AHPETC said.

AHPETC posted the accounts for Punggol East SMC for the the period April 1, 2013, to April 30, 2013. AHPETC took over from Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPGTC) on May 1, 2013.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had said that PRPGTC handed over S$22.5 million in cash to AHPETC. AHPETC did not dispute the transfer, but called his comments "irrelevant and misleading".

Mr Teo's team had put forth an explanation for the accumulated deficit of S$282,000 as at end-April 2013. Chairman of the Pasir Ris Town Council Zainal Bin Sapari said in a Facebook post that this situation arose as Town Council rules require all routine fund surplus - after deducting funds for committed town improvement projects - to be transferred to the sinking fund when there is a change of party.

He said that as at March 31, 2012, Punggol East SMC had a surplus of S$804,945. After the election results in January, money was set aside for town improvement projects, and the remainder was transferred to the sinking fund.

The same set of accounts showed an amount of S$303,372 claimable as reimbursement from the Community Improvement Projects Committee fund, which PRPGTC had already secured for Punggol East SMC. After accounting for that reimbursement, there would be an actual net surplus of S$21,363, Mr Zainal said.

"The truth is that the financial position was in surplus and Punggol East SMC was in good financial health when the whole set of accounts handed over to AHPETC is read together. This information was provided to AHPETC at the handover," he wrote.

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