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Disclose additional funding received by PAP TCs : Low tells MND

The following is the press release from the Workers’ Party on the recent TCMR report by the Ministry of National Development.

I refer to Senior Minister of State Grace Fu’s response to my comment that opposition Town Councils which had never received either IUP, MUP or CIPC funding to improve and rejuvenate the estate would be in a disadvantaged position compared to PAP TCs.

She was quoted in today’s press report to have said that “criteria for HDB’s upgrading programmes are clear and not all PAP wards qualify too.” And that “upgraded estate also faces maintenance issue as covered walk-way, for example, could need more effort to maintain than a clean patch of grass”.

SMS Grace Foo is sidetracking the issue I raised and attempting to mislead Singaporeans to believing that the PAP government is fair to all Town Councils including those managed by opposition parties. Is she saying that upgrading programmes has no impact and implication on estate maintenance?

Upgrading programmes such as IUP and MUP do not just build additional facilities like covered walk-ways as she mentioned. The upgrading programme also include upgrading of common areas like re-screeding of common corridor and replacement of lift lobby tiles as well as upgrading of playgrounds etc. One will not expect to find missing or worn off screws, nor floor mat being ripped off in new playgrounds. If the staircase railing is replaced with stainless steel railing instead of the existing mild steel railing inherited from the HDB as part of the upgrading program, one will not expect the railing to become rusty and corroded to become a maintenance issue.

SMS Grace Foo also said that “not all PAP wards qualify for upgrading programme” and that “how much a town council gets from the government depends on the number and types of flat, not whether it is run by PAP or the opposition.” The funding she is referring to is SC/CC grants. What I am referring to in my statement is funding received by the PAP TCs via upgrading progamme.

I have filed questions for written answers in Parliament twice, one in November 2009 sitting and another in April 2010 sitting asking for the amount of funding each benefitting PAP Town Council received from the various upgrading programmes. The answers given were the number of precincts upgraded at each PAP TCs and the estimated cost of the upgrading per unit. I am puzzled by this.

It is time the Ministry of National Development let the public know how much additional funding each PAP TC has received through the various upgrading programmes funded by the national budget or has benefitted from the programme up to the financial year 2009 so that Singaporeans can have a clear idea of which PAP TC did not qualify for the upgrading program as mentioned by Grace Foo. The public should know how much additional funding is given to PAP TCs via the upgrading programs and hence can judge for themselves whether it could affect the outcome of town management.

On the issue of SCCC arrears where the opposition TCs had exceeded the criteria set by the MND on TCMR. I noted that although MND had issued a “guideline” on writing off of SCCC arrears in 2008. PAP TCs had written off SCCC arrears. When SCCC arrears are written off, it is incomes written off and it will affect the bottom line. PAP TCs can do it perhaps they have more surpluses and are in a better financial position due to additional funding received through upgrading program? This is also why some PAP TCs are then able to use their own TC funds to help residents to pay SCCC arrears to reduce the number of months in SCCC arrears by way of offering part time employment. However, the more serious question is whether this is fair to other residents who pay promptly.

I would suggest two more criteria for TCMR for MND’s consideration. They are funding either directly received or indirectly benefitted from government programmes to improve and upgrade common areas managed by town councils; and amount of SCCC arrears written off by town councils. Band 5 being for most funding and SCCC amount written off.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, when he was the Prime Minister once threatened voters not to vote for opposition candidates as opposition wards would become slum overtime. Both Potong Pasir and Hougang have not become slums today after more than a decade managed by opposition parties and the PAP must be rather disappointed with the outcome. The result of TCMR is a consolation prize to them.

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Picture not from WP press release.

The Workers' Party website: http://wp.sg

Picture from Straits Times.