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Grassroots organizations give vouchers, groceries and cash to people without “documentary evidence”

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 heavily censured People's Association (PA) for lapses in the management of welfare assistance schemes meant to help Singaporeans from the lower income group.

AGO said it test checked the welfare assistance schemes administered by the grassroots organizations (GROs) which came under the purview of PA, for the period from April 2016 to June 2017 last year. Altogether, there are currently some 1,800 GROs reporting to PA.

The checks revealed that cash gifts and assistance-in-kind, which included supermarket vouchers, food vouchers and groceries given to needy residents were not properly managed.

"Consequently, there was no assurance that welfare assistance was given only to eligible applicants and that vouchers and groceries were properly accounted for," AGO said.

No Documentary Evidence to Substantiate Recipients’ Eligibility for Cash Gifts and Assistance-in-kind

Out of 9 GROs which the AGO audited, 3 or 33% were found to have no "documentary evidence of assessment" to substantiate the eligibility of recipients for receiving the assistance-in-kind (totalling $123,600) and cash gifts (totalling $4,500).

These 3 GROs supposedly gave assistance-in-kind and cash gifts to 177 recipients. 48 or 27% of them were found to have no documentary evidence to justify receiving such assistance-in-kind or cash gifts.

"This was not in compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the Citizens’ Consultative Committee Central Development Welfare Fund. Hence, there was no assurance that welfare assistance was given only to eligible applicants," AGO said.

AGO did not say if the 48 who dubiously received the assistance-in-kind or cash gifts were found to be related to any of the grassroots leaders in the 3 GROs.

PA explained that applicants were interviewed and assessed for welfare assistance but the assessments for eligibility were not documented. PA acknowledged the need to document the eligibility of recipients and would put in place procedures to standardize the evaluation process across GROs.