The Ministry of National Development has grossly misrepresented the Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) in saying that it wanted government grants “without conditions and accountability”, the town council announced in a media release published today, 5 June.
“From the onset of the High Court case, AHPETC had written to MND that it accepted that the Town Councils Act enabled the Minister to set conditions on the disbursement of grants to Town Councils,” wrote Ms Sylvia Lim, AHPETC’s chairman.
“AHPETC then went further to agree to most of the conditions that MND had proposed for the disbursement of the grants for FY 14/15 and FY 15/16. To date, only two issues remain: the identity of external accountants to co-sign cheques drawing on the grants, and AHPETC’s request for the entire grant for FY 14/15 to be placed in its Sinking Funds.”
Ms LIm also noted that the High Court Judge viewed the remaining issues as “minor and technical”, and could be overcome.
“He further urged parties to reach a consensus so that the grants could be disbursed as soon as possible,” said Ms Lim. “Instead of heeding the Judge’s advice, MND filed an appeal against the judgment within 48 hours.”
Ms Lim said that AHPETC will still want to work with MND to resolve the remaining issues, expeditiously and out of court, in relation to the grants, which amounts to about S$14 million.
“AHPETC agreed to an expedited appeal as it wishes to have finality and to move on from this unnecessary litigation,” said Ms Lim, “which is a distraction and also a drain on the Town Council’s precious resources.”
Ms Lim also said that the town council disagrees with MND’s reasons for the expedited appeal.
“AHPETC is continuing to review its financial and control processes. AHPETC also notes the decision of the High Court that there is no legal basis for MND to apply to court to impose conditions on the grants, and no legal basis for independent accountants to be appointed to carry out inquiries into AHPETC’s past transactions.”