Wrong information, course mismatch among Wong Fong unit's SkillsFuture breaches

Sharanya Pillai
Published Sun, May 3, 2020 · 02:13 PM

DECLARING incorrect working hours, wrongly submitting a claim for a trainee and choosing irrelevant courses were among the breaches that got Ascer, a subsidiary of Wong Fong Industries, suspended from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) funding schemes for a year.

In a bourse filing on Sunday, Wong Fong laid out the exact breaches that Ascer had committed and how they occurred, in response to queries from the Singapore Exchange. On April 29, Wong Fong had announced that Ascer has made restitution payment of about S$101,000 to SSG.

One breach involved the incorrect declaration of working hours by an extra 2.5 hours for each of Ascer's trainees in four employer-sponsored training grant claims. This resulted in excess absentee payroll grants being disbursed to Ascer.

Wong Fong said that the error arose due to differences in the interpretation of the hourly rate to be used for calculating the grant. Ascer's accounts executive was responsible for submitting the training grant claims.

"For example, Employee A has a contract with Ascer to work at a rate of S$7 per hour. Based on the SSG's computation, the hourly was S$6.60 per hour instead. Ascer had submitted claims to the SSG based on the actual hourly rate paid," the company said in its filing.

Another breach involves a submission made for a trainee who was not an employee of Ascer, resulting in wrongful disbursement of course fee and absentee payroll grant to the firm.


Start and end each day with the latest news stories and analyses delivered straight to your inbox.


Ascer had sent the individual for training and made a claim before her employment contract was signed. Ascer's accounts executive failed to remove the individual from the training grant list, and this was overlooked by the supervisor, Wong Fong said.

The third breach involves the fact that the funded courses may not have been relevant to the trainees' current role, making the respective claims ineligible for funding.

Ascer's staff were deployed to hospitality sectors as kitchen helpers, F&B crew and cleaning crew. The courses "were selected to equip them with skills in these job roles within the hospitality industry, regardless of their current role, to enhance their overall employability", Wong Fong said.

"However, the SSG was of the view that the training courses may not be relevant to the trainees' current roles. As such, the respective claims are deemed to be ineligible for funding. Ascer's senior manager is responsible for arranging training for these employees," the firm said.

A further breach occurred when Ascer submitted its full-fee employer-sponsored training claims without having made the full funded course fee payment to the training organisation. As such, the respective claims were ineligible for funding.

Ascer's accounts executive was not fully aware of the SSG requirements to pay the training provider prior to submitting claims and "had assumed that it was just a matter of timing difference", Wong Fong said.

Wong Fong received SSG's notice of intent to suspend funding on Feb 19 and had appealed on March 3, the company said in response to SGX's query on the when it was notified of the breaches by SSG. On April 24, SSG informed Wong Fong that the appeal was unsuccessful and its management teams held discussions to decide on a re-appeal to SSG.

In response to a query on the financial impact of the S$101,000 restitution payment to SSG, the company said that the payment is "immaterial" and will be written off in its FY2020 financial statements.

"Except for the S$101,000, the balance of the approximately S$415,000 had been accounted for in the group's accounts receivable provision in the financial statements as at Dec 31, 2019," Wong Fong added.

Based on this, both Wong Fong's management and its external auditors confirm that no adjustments will be required to be made to the group's financial statements for FY2019.

Shares of Wong Fong closed flat at S$0.124 on Thursday.


BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to  t.me/BizTimes

Companies & Markets


Get the latest coverage and full access to all BT premium content.


Browse corporate subscription here