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MND "stands ready" to engage AHTC over withheld S&CC grants

THE Ministry of National Development (MND) on Friday said it "stands ready" to re-engage Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) to disburse S&CC grants that it withheld from the town council.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal ordered AHTC to make good all its outstanding sinking fund transfers within three months, and take active steps to rectify breaches and contraventions of the Town Councils Act.

It has ordered AHTC to appoint accountants, subject to HDB's consent, to assist on non-compliance issues; report monthly to HDB on what the town council has done to fix the breaches until the contraventions are fully rectified; and establish whether any past payments made by the town council were improper and if they need to be recovered.

"MND will disburse the S&CC grants once the appropriate safeguards are in place. This will include the town council's accountants having been appointed to ensure that the funds are properly used and receiving the town council's cooperation," it said in a statement on Friday evening.

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"MND stands ready to re-engage AHTC on the above so that the grants can be disbursed soon, with the necessary safeguards in place. We also look forward to the town council's cooperation with HDB in the carrying out of the court orders."

In an earlier statement, AHTC said it will comply with all the orders made by the Court. It said it fully accepts and respects the Court of Appeal's judgment.

"The town council acknowledges its role as a guardian of public funds. We assure the Ministry of National Development that government grants or grants-in-aid are used solely for the upkeep of the town and in the interests of all residents," it said.

"In view of the judgment, we will work with the ministry to facilitate the prompt transfer of the outstanding grants to AHTC, which have been withheld for two years, so it can make the remaining outstanding quarterly sinking fund transfers as required by law."