The Auditor-General, in his report to the president released on Wednesday, has found some serious irregularities with regard to the National Parks Board’s management of the Gardens by the Bay project.
The NParks was found to have failed to obtain approval and laxity over contract variations and payments in managing the development of the Gardens.
The Gardens by the Bay was developed at a cost of some S$1.06 billion.
“Consequently,” the AGO report said, “there was no assurance that NParks had not spent more funds than necessary.”
Breached Government procurement principle
The AGO found that NParks had breached the Government procurement principle of open and fair competition for consultancy services contracts.
“There was no assurance that value for money was achieved for the services procured,” the auditor said.
The report also found that Nparks had allowed a consultant to commence services before approval was obtained to call a limited tender for the services inviting only one consultant to bid.
The contract was worth $2.37 million.
“By doing so, NParks had prematurely communicated to the consultant that it had intended to award the contract to the consultant,” the AGO said. “Thus, there was no assurance that NParks had obtained a competitive bid for the tender.”
$20.77m worth of contracts given without tender
The AGO also found three other consultancy contracts worth a total of $20.77 million that were awarded via waiver of competition without compelling reasons.
NParks had cited tight timeline as the main reason for waiving the competition.
However, the AGO said it found “no evidence to show that the tight timeline was caused by unforeseen and urgent events.”
The AGO report said it found 65 instances – totalling $8.03 million – where there was no documentary evidence of assessment on the reasonableness of the single quotes received.
“Of the 65 instances, the reasons for obtaining only one quotation for 43 instances – totalling $6.37 million – were not compelling,” the auditor said.
There were 45 instances where approvals were obtained after the variation works had been carried out. In 34 instances, approvals were obtained seven to 18 months after payments – totalling $0.37 million – were made.
Payment without supporting documents
The AGO found numerous cases where payments were improperly made:
- 33 cases where reimbursements – totalling $776,900 – including one for a lump sum of $189,000, were made without supporting documents.
- 2 cases of overpayments totalling $142,000.
- 3 cases where the goods accepted – totalling $35,000 – did not match the items procured.
No monitoring system
“NParks did not have a system to monitor and recover money due from its consultants and contractors for the procurement of information management services,” the AGO said.
NParks could not ascertain if a total of $199,800, which it had earlier paid on behalf of its consultants, had been recovered from the relevant parties.
The chief executive officer of Nparks is Kenneth Er Boon Hwee.
NParks is under the purview of the Ministry of National Development, headed by Minister Khaw Boon Wan.