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Finance Ministry “disappointed” with instances of officers from MCCY and PA allegedly fabricating or altering paperwork, following AGO’s report

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The Auditor-General’s Office’s (AGO)’s newest findings on severe lapses involving officers from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the People’s Association (PA) is disappointing, stated the Ministry of Finance on Thursday.

In its audit report on authorities ministries and statutory boards for FY2020/21, the AGO discovered “weaknesses in management of contract variations” for 2 of PA’s improvement initiatives, with a complete worth of $623.96 million.

The lapses indicated insufficient oversight of the consultants by PA, the AGO famous.

‘The high number of cases with no evidence of approval also pointed to poor documentary trails, which increased the risk of irregularities not being detected,” AGO said.

It added: “The lack of independent sources to assess the cost reasonableness of star rate items and the failure to properly account for variation works also did not provide assurance that PA had obtained full value for the public funds spent.”

MOF in its statement on Thursday said that it will “throw the book at officers involved in suspected fraud and corruption including lodging police reports for criminal investigations to be conducted”.

“Beyond that, the heads of our agencies will continue to strengthen governance and controls to ensure that our system of integrity is maintained. They will also prioritise and intensify our internal audits to look out for any such wrong-doing. When such issues are detected, we will deal with them decisively,” the ministry added.

PA files police report over alleged falsification of documents flagged by AGO

The two PA development projects audited by the AGO in its 2020/21 report are Our Tampines Hub (OTH) and [email protected] (HBB).

Regarding OTH, PA said in a statement that it “had engaged contractors to carry out minor building works” at the facilities and took on the services of a managing agent “to assist in managing the facilities and to supervise the contractors”.

“In reviewing the payments made to the contractors, AGO sampled 36 payments (totalling $1.27 million) made between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2020. It found that there were possible irregularities in the supporting documents for 34 of such payments.

“The possible irregularities include possible falsification of quotations, alteration of hardcopy payment supporting documents and creation and backdating of documents to give the false impression that proper processes had been followed.

“Upon notification by AGO of the above in March 2021, PA immediately convened an internal investigation panel, led by senior officers from PA and MCCY, to conduct a thorough review of the related processes,” said PA.

Findings from the investigation, which concluded in May, had “confirmed AGO’s observations”, stated the organisation.

Subsequently, PA stated that it has lodged a police report relating to the above and has suspended its employees pending the result of the investigations.

PA stated that it has additionally arrange a taskforce led by senior officers to strengthen processes in procurement, contract and facility administration, increase employees capabilities, and enhance oversight of contractors and managing brokers.

“In addition to the above, PA will be appointing an external consultant to conduct a thorough review of its governance system and oversight functions in relation to contract management of all development projects. The external consultant will be given a broad mandate to review the above matters and provide recommendations to strengthen PA’s oversight of contract management,” stated PA.

Serious lapses in previous checks carried out by AGO on PA

This shouldn’t be the primary time AGO has discovered faults in PA’s inner monetary processes.

In 2015, 35 out of the 91 Community Club Management Committees (CCMCs) check checked by the AGO have been discovered to have did not acquire approvals from the related authorities for awarding 53 tenancy contracts value a complete of S$17.78 million.

10 of the 35 CCMCs additionally didn’t acquire the related approvals for the direct award of 13 tenancy contracts value a complete of S$3.67 million. These contracts have been additionally given with out competitors, which may solely be given underneath distinctive circumstances.

These are simply half of the damning report on PA by AGO in 2015.

In 2018, 13 of 18 PA grassroots organizations checked by AGO have been discovered to have recurring issues in award of tender contracts.

189 purchases amounting to $6.03 million made by PA’s 18 GROs have been test-checked throughout this audit. Out of the 18 GROs, 13 — or 72 per cent — have been discovered to not have obtained correct approvals for award of contracts and variation for some 25 purchases totalling $619,900.

AGO additionally famous that failure to acquire correct approvals for the award of contracts is a “recurring lapse”. The same statement was raised within the Report of the Auditor-General for the monetary 12 months 2014/15.

These are simply half of the equally damning report by AGO in 2018.

In any case, PA does take pleasure in a detailed relationship with the People’s Action Party (PAP). At a public discussion board, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew as soon as commented on what some PRC officers had noticed once they visited Singapore years in the past.

He stated, “They (PRCs) discover that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has only a small office in Bedok. But everywhere they go, they see the PAP – in the RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (Citizens’ Consultative Committees), and the CCs (Community Clubs).”

The CEO of PA is presently Lim Hock Yu. Lim retired as a Brigadier General from the SAF earlier than becoming a member of PA as its Deputy Chief Executive. He was appointed to head PA final 12 months.

“In his distinguished military career, Mr Lim has held various key appointments, including Commander 9th Singapore Division/Chief Infantry Officer, Commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Chief of Staff (General Staff),” PA stated.

PA is presently chaired by PM Lee, who’s the Secretary-General of PAP. He is seconded by PAP minister Edwin Tong. 8 out of its 14 board of administration members are from PAP.

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