AGO found groceries meant for distribution to needy residents went missing in grassroots organization

The Auditor-General Office (AGO) released its auditing report on government ministries and statutory boards for the Financial Year 2017/18 today (17 Jul).

In its report, AGO pointed out that groceries purchased for needy residents by some grassroots organizations (GROs) were not in accordance with the stipulated contracts and that some of the groceries even went missing.

People’s Association (PA) is the statutory board responsible for all the GROs in Singapore. Some 1,800 GROs report to PA.

Groceries Purchased Not in Accordance with Contracts and Unaccounted For

AGO said it test checked groceries purchased (totaling $169,000) for distribution to needy residents at 2 GROs and found that the type of groceries purchased and prices paid by one GRO were not in accordance with those stated in the contracts with a vendor. As for the other GRO, AGO found that some of the groceries purchased could not be accounted for. In other words, the groceries had gone missing.

AGO test-checked the purchase of 66 types of groceries at the first GRO and found that it had paid prices higher than the contract rates for 9 of them. Another 25 types of groceries purchased were not provided for in the contracts. It did not name the GRC nor the vendor involved.

At the second GRO, AGO found that 12 types of groceries purchased (totaling $2,800) were not in the packing lists for distribution to the residents for 3 of the 5 months test-checked. The GRO also did not maintain records to track the groceries purchased and distributed. Hence, there was no assurance that all groceries purchased were distributed to the needy residents and properly accounted for.

AGO did not say if any Police reports were lodged for the missing groceries. It also did not name the GRO.

PA informed AGO that it would ensure that proper procurement procedures are observed. It would also strengthen its procedures on the stock-taking, packing and distribution of groceries.

Close relationship between PA and PAP

The relationship between PA and the ruling People’s Action Party is a close one. In fact, many of the Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) chairmen are also PAP branch chairmen.

One such CCC chairman who wears both CCC and PAP hats is Mr Victor Lye Thiam Fatt. He is the CCC chairman of Bedok Reservoir-Punggol CCC and also PAP branch chairman. He was part of the PAP team which tried to wrest Aljunied GRC from the WP in the last GE.