The Ministry of National Development (MND) revealed to CNA on Monday (30 Aug) that it had received appeals from Chua Chu Kang and Jurong-Clementi town councils to increase their budgets for the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme.

Besides these two town councils, Member of Parliament (MP) for MacPherson SMC Tin Pei Ling also told CNA that she also has plans to appeal to the MND to review her constituency’s upgrading budget.

In response, a spokesperson from the Ministry said: “We are currently monitoring the situation and at this juncture, do not see the need to increase the budget for NRP (Neighbourhood Renewal Programme) projects. (Town councils) have been advised to work within their allocated budgets.”

The programme, which is fully funded by the Government, looks into block and precinct improvements and is implemented by town councils.

MPs and town councils stated that several upgrading projects had to be scaled down or delayed, CNA reported.

Ms Tin said that the budget allocated for her ward in its NRP was approved prior to the pandemic. With the amount of fund allocated, the team picked several upgrading projects for residents to consider and held roadshows to get their feedback.

However, once the pandemic hit, the quotations they received for these works increased.

“We had to go through the exercise of determining what items to give up, so it was quite painful and disappointing,” she said.

Ms Tin added that the whittling down of items will be “significant”, where they may have to give up about one-third of all the improvements they had planned for.

She went on to say that some of the projects that may be axed include the upgrading of existing linkways, construction of news ones, new bicycle sheds, as well as the upgrading of a drop-off porch.

But proceeding with the works while costs are high would mean wasting a “precious opportunity to do more for residents”, Ms Tin noted.

“So to compromise, the decision is we’ll hold back for a few months, let’s see if prices stabilise. Then maybe we can pack a bit more in,” she added.

West Coast Town Council also informed CNA that about 80 per cent of its town improvement projects have been delayed by three to six months, with two ongoing projects most likely be extended by a year.

It added that residents have been informed about this and they are “generally understanding”.

Separately, certain town councils are sourcing for ways to stretch their budget and review plans. Jalan Besar Town Council revealed that it is engaging with working committees and relevant parties to relook upgrading plans and improvement projects.

“We will explore how best to proceed, keeping in mind the anticipated higher costs, while continuing to meet the needs of our residents and the community,” a spokesperson told CNA.

Nee Soon Town Council’s chairman Derrick Goh said that the town has adopted a “modular” approach, in which projects like NRP are done in parts to reduce disruptions.

Netizens slam town councils for unnecessary upgrading works

After reading this, online users slammed the town councils for the unnecessary upgrading works that have been carried out at the area.

Penning their thoughts on CNA’s Facebook page, a handful of netizens shared that a lot of unnecessary upgrading are being done at their areas, urging the authorities to just keep the place clean and tidy as this will save the town councils a lot of money.

Some said that upgrading or refurbishment works are done on things that are not ruined and do not require any  repair works in the first place.

Others said that the town councils should either temporarily put upgrading projects on hold or only do for those essential things like drainage.

Many others are urging the ministers and mayors to take a pay cut so as to help “disperse the funds into the Town Councils” in order for them to carry on with the upgrading projects.

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