Letter from Low Thia Khiang, Chairman, Hougang Town Council
I refer to the press report on Town Council Management Report (TCMR) and Upgrading Programs on June 17, 2010.
SMS Grace Fu said the Lift Upgrading Program would add to the responsibilities and operational costs of town councils. However, we are talking about estate maintenance here. In the context of the TCMR, operation cost is not measured. In fact, newly installed lifts are less likely to break down and will have lesser maintenance issues. In any case, I am not aware of any town council that would embark on an upgrading exercise in its estate, such as building a swimming pool, under the IUP or MUP to significantly increase its responsibilities and potential maintenance issues.
I have been talking about Interim Upgrading program (IUP), Main Upgrading program (MUP) and CIPC funding for projects on this issue in relation to estate maintenance thus far. To clarify the issue, SMS Grace Fu should let the public know how much each town council has benefitted from the above upgrading programs cumulatively since the inception of these programs up to 2009.
I have asked in Parliament, and again in my press release of June 14, for the information on the amount of funding each PAP Town Council received from the various upgrading programs to be made public. I am disappointed that the Ministry of National Development (MND) has kept silent on this.
Based on MND's written reply to my question in Parliament, the budget for the IUP was $4,000 per flat and the followings are the distribution of the IUP precincts by Town Councils (TCs).
However, the above funding is only part of the story. There are also other types of upgrading programs like MUP and IUP Plus, as well as CIPC funding for projects carried out by PAP TCs.
What I know is that the PAP government has spent huge sum of monies over the years to upgrade HDB flats in PAP constituencies, which in turn has benefitted the PAP TCs immensely. They could have saved substantial sum of expenditure in cyclical works and routine maintenance as a result. The savings would have contributed to the operating surplus and higher sinking fund over the years. These savings, when invested, would have further generated investment income for the TCs.
The public should know how much additional funding is given to PAP TCs directly or indirectly via the upgrading programs. Singaporeans can then judge for themselves whether this could affect the outcome of the town management and financial position of the town council.
The same press report stated that "only few arrears are written off". However, I noted that in FY 2007/08, Jalan Besar, Tampines, Holland-Bukit Panjang and Hong Kah town councils wrote off $240,090, $172,468, $103,560 and $106,307 respectively. What is the cumulative figure of the SCCC arrears written off by each PAP TC over the years?
Read also Mr Low's earlier rebuttal: Disclose additional funding received by PAP TCs: Low tells MND.
And: Good counterpunches by Workers' Party chief by Yawning Bread.