Monday, 24 November 2014

Town Council Grants And Surplus Issues

Reminders, help schemes used by PAP-run town councils
Town council officers will typically visit residents who default on payments to understand their predicament, before imposing a penalty fee on service and conservancy charges owed

At estates managed by People’s Action Party-run town councils, up to three monthly reminders will be sent to residents who have not paid their service and conservancy charges (S&CC). By the third month, most of the town councils will impose a penalty fee.

Before the penalty fee is imposed though, town council officers will typically visit residents who default on payments to understand their predicament. Advice on financial schemes they can tap, such as ComCare or assistance in job matching, is then dispensed to those who need help.

The Temporary Estate Inspector Scheme offered by the Northeast Central Development Council, for instance, hires unemployed residents who have difficulty paying S&CC as temporary inspectors to identify faulty lights or water leaks around the estate. The money which they earn from the scheme will be used to offset their arrears.

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WP pressed to account for ‘serious financial mismanagement’
AHPETC has yet to explain itself on its high S&CC arrears rate, aims to distract public from issue: Minister of State

A day after the Ministry of National Development (MND) provided details of town council grants to refute online speculation, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee yesterday turned up the heat on Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), pressing the Workers’ Party-run body to account for its high service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears rate and what he described as “serious financial mismanagement”.

Issuing a press statement, Mr Lee said AHPETC had yet to explain itself on the matters. “Instead, we have seen a coordinated online campaign to distract the public, using falsehoods, half-truths and speculations, by friends, sympathisers and proxies of the WP.”

“The aim is to confuse the public and distract them from the real issues. The MND has addressed these untruths. This is what the WP often does when caught under the spotlight — raise a flurry of red herrings in the hope that people forget it has not come clean.”

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AHPETC yet to explain serious financial mismanagement: Desmond Lee

Minister of State (National Development) Desmond Lee today (Nov 21) issued a statement (carried in full below) on the high service and conservancy charge (S&CC) arrears rates at Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). Among the issues raised, Mr Lee questioned the delay in explaining the arrears rates and noted that while AHPETC chairman Sylvia Lim cited the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) audit as a reason for the town council not being able to submit its arrears reports on time, the town council had stopped providing the data 10 months before the AGO audit started.

In reply to media queries, AHPETC vice-chairmen Pritam Singh and Png Eng Huat said the town council has not “obfuscated or intentionally delayed” its response to matters raised by Mr Lee, and has “made it known to the public that we are looking into the S&CC arrears data, and will respond to the query on the financial and arrears situation in due course”. The full response by Mr Singh and Mr Png is carried below.

Here is the statement by Minister of State (National Development) Desmond Lee in full:

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AHPETC denies intentionally delaying response to arrears issue

The Aljnied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has denied claims by Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee that it had yet to respond on the state of its finances.

It was previously reported that AHPETC had been red flagged in the Ministry of National Development's (MND) Town Council Management Report in two areas: service and consultancy charge (S&CC) arrears and corporate governance.

According to Channel NewsAsia, Mr Lee said on Friday that the key issue in the poor performance of AHPETC is accountability and transparency, and that the WP had not explained its "serious financial mismanagement" and rising S&CC arrears.

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Call for answers on arrears issue from Aljunied residents

While they were largely sympathetic towards those in genuine need who cannot pay their service and conservancy charges (S&CC), some residents living in estates managed by the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) whom TODAY spoke with have urged it to be more transparent about the source of its high arrears rate and what it is planning to do to tackle the problem.

Calling on the town council to share more information about the issue, the residents said they wanted to know, for example, who are those who are not paying, why they are not doing so and what is being done about those in need.

Reactions culled from street interviews with 30 residents living in the estates showed that many adopted a sympathetic bent, but only if it involves those who are genuinely in need and cannot afford to pay. In such cases, they said, more should be done to help those in need.

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‘No error’ in transfer of surpluses to AHPETC Sinking Fund: MND

The Ministry of National Development (MND) on Friday (Nov 21) confirmed that the transfer of S$3.7 million – or 80 per cent of Accumulated Surplus – to the Workers’ Party-managed Sinking Fund following the 2011 General Election was in accordance with the Town Councils Act.

Following the MND clarification on Thursday that funding for Town Councils is based on the number of HDB flat units and types in a given estate, sociopolitical website theonlinecitizen had asked if a factual error had been made, citing a segment of the Town Councils Act which states: "If the Member or Members elected and the previous Member or Members for the constituency stood in elections for different political parties – all its surpluses relating to such area of the Town comprised in that constituency shall be transferred to the prescribed sinking funds of the Town Council relating to that area."

However, the MND on Friday noted that that was “no error” in the original response, as under Section 34 (4) of the act, should the area of a town be changed due to electoral boundary changes, the 80 per cent figure applies.

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National Development Ministry explains Town Council surplus and grant issues
The Ministry of National Development (MND) has explained how the Government disburses grants to town councils, and how much of a council's surpluses must be set aside after an election

It was responding to questions from the media, and discussion online, linked to the financial position of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

These included whether the amount of government grants it receives as well as the financial surpluses that the council has access to, affected its financial well-being and ability to carry out its role.

The council has been in the news after an annual report on town councils gave it a red rating - the lowest among 16 councils - over the sharp increase in its service and conservancy charge (S&CC) arrears, as well as for corporate governance.

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MND gives details of town council grants to refute online speculation

The service and conservancy charge (S&CC) grants that are allocated to town councils (TCs) by the Government are based on the number of Housing and Development Board flat units and flat types, with smaller flats getting higher grants, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said yesterday.

In responding to media queries on how the grants — which enable TCs to subsidise the S&CC for residents living in four-room flats and smaller — are calculated, the ministry also said the formula has been in place since 1999 and is applied consistently to all town councils. It added that the amounts are not based on the number of voters in each TC.

The MND’s statement yesterday came in the wake of concerns about the high arrears rate at the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). After red flags were raised, allegations were bandied about online about the size of the grants given to People’s Action Party town councils vis-a-vis that of the Workers’ Party (WP)-run AHPETC, suggesting that the former are able to post operating surpluses because they receive more in government grants. AHPETC, the online posts charged, is in deficit because it receives less.

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MND discloses how it computes govt grants to town councils
The Ministry of National Development (MND) has disclosed how it computes government grants to town councils

Since the annual Town Council Management report released on Nov 4 showed Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council’s (AHPETC) poor ratings for S&CC (service and conservancy charges) arrears, online news sites and forums have questioned how the quantum of government grants are decided, with some suggesting that the smaller grant given to AHPETC being reason for its poor financial health.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee had also said that the arrears racked up by AHPETC has “serious implications” for residents.

In response to media queries on government grants for town councils, the MND said the S&CC operating grant is allocated to all town councils based on the number of HDB flat units and the flat types, with smaller flat types get higher grants.

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Town Councils Act review: Questions on enforcement, accountability

The Ministry of National Development (MND) is reviewing the Town Councils Act to strengthen regulatory oversight, in order to better safeguard residents' interest.

This was announced on Thursday (Nov 20), as part of its response to media queries over the controversy surrounding the management of funds by the opposition-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

In addition to clarifying the formula used to determine the amount of government grants received by Town Councils, MND reiterated that Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council’s (AHPETC) financial position had deteriorated rapidly, based on the town council's own financial statements.

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Funding for town councils based on flat types, number of units: MND

The funding for town councils is based on the number of HDB flat units and flat types in an area, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) on Thursday (Nov 20). MND said this, in response to media queries on government grants for town councils.

Questions have been raised in various forums on the grants given to the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) run by the opposition Workers' Party in comparison to other town councils run by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). Some alleged that government grants helped PAP-run town councils run an operating surplus instead of a deficit.

This comes after Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee highlighted AHPETC's finances recently, saying its sharp increase in service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears has serious implications for residents.

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Aljunied town council’s ‘persistent poor performance’ of ‘grave public concern’: MND


The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council’s (AHPETC) “persistent poor performance” in several areas is of “grave public concern”, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said.

The comments were made in the annual Town Council Management Report, released on Tuesday (Nov 4), which assesses the 16 town councils on five indicators – estate cleanliness, estate maintenance, lift performance, service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears management and corporate governance. The town councils’ performance is rated in three bands – green, amber or red.

In the latest report, the MND said most town councils performed well last year, although some “could do better” in certain areas, such as service and conservancy charge arrears management, corporate governance, and and estate maintenance.

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Mainstream Media:
Channel News Asia: Call for answers on arrears issue from Aljunied residents

Social Media:
TOC: Who decides on govt grants?
TOC: No necessity to make unsubstantiated accusations against Singaporeans
TOC: WP rebuts Desmond Lee’s accusations, says accounts open to AGO
TOC: TPTC rakes up operating deficits since FY10?
TOC: MND’s statement on town councils: Another “half the story” clarification?
TOC: MND explain why AHPETC received less grants, MOS Lee’s statement
TOC: Did Desmond Lee tell the whole story?
TOC: Aljunied’s surplus transferred to sinking fund when PAP lost to WP?
TOC: PAP town council “incurred huge deficit” in 1997
TR Emeritus: Is Tanjong Pagar GRC the worst run Town Council?
TR Emeritus: Lim on arrears: What’d happen if WP were to run SG?
TR Emeritus: Why does Aljunied always fail town council report?
TR Emeritus: AMKTC runs $6.2M deficit but gets $13.9M in Govt grants
TR Emeritus: Desmond Lee, all town councils run deficits!
TR Emeritus: TPTC rakes up operating deficits since FY10
TR Emeritus: PAP town council ‘incurred huge deficit’ in 1997
TR Emeritus: MND explains why AMKTC & TPTC get more grants
TR Emeritus: TRE agrees grant per elector not the best measure
TR Emeritus: Aljunied’s surplus transferred when PAP lost to WP
ASS: ALJUNIED RESIDENTS DEMAND AHPETC MORE TRANSPARENT ABT S&CC ARREARS
ASSMND: 63% OF AHPETC HOUSEHOLDS IN ARREARS ONLY AFTER WP TOOK OVER
ASSMND DISCLOSES HOW IT COMPUTES GOVT GRANTS TO TOWN COUNCILS
ASSPAP SUPPORTER: STOP PAYING RED HERRINGS & ASK WHY AHPETC HAS A DEFICIT
ASSALJUNIED GRC GETS LESSER GRANTS BECAUSE IT HAS MORE RICH PEOPLE
TRS: MND: AHPETC GETS SMALLER GOVT GRANTS BCOZ MORE RICH PEOPLE LIVE THERE
TRS: PAP CLAIMS “WORK WITH” RESIDENTS S&CC ARREARS; RESIDENTS SAY OTHERWISE
TRS: 75 YR OLD SPORE WOMAN ARRESTED FOR FAILING TO PAY S&CC IN TANJONG PAGAR
TRS: PAP TOWN COUNCIL’S WAY OF MANAGING ARREARS – SEND LAWYER LETTER
TRS: TOWN COUNCIL OR LOAN SHARK?
TRS: WHY DOES TC KEEP RAISING S&CC THEN ARREST THOSE WHO DON'T PAY
TRS: HOW THE PAP IS PUSHING THE WP INTO A CORNER
TRSTOWN COUNCILS: ANOTHER "CLARIFICATION" THAT ONLY TELLS HALF THE STORY
TRSPOLITICAL BUSKING BY MIW SHOULD BE REGULATED!
TRSCALVIN CHENG-FOCUS WHY AHPETC HAS GONE INTO DEFICIT AFTER WP TOOK OVER
TRSWORKER’S PARTY SILENCE ON AHPETC PROVES LIES ON THE REAL SINGAPORE
TRSWHY WP LOW IS SILENT ABT ALMOST EVERYTHING/SILENCE IS NO LONGER GOLDEN
TRS: LIM BOON HENG DOES NOT THINK THE WORKER'S PARTY CAN RUN THE COUNTRY
Sg GE2016: Transparency & Accountability Cuts Both Ways - WP remain silent
Sg GE2016:: Worker's Party "Responds" to MND's Town Council Report - Not!
Sg GE2016: Aljunied Resident’s Open Letter to Sylvia Lim
Sg GE2016: Worker’s Party Silence on AHPETC Proves Lies on TRS
Sg GE2016: SG Leaks: Town Council Act, Toothless by Design
Sg GE2016: Aljunied Resident Reveals Misuse of S&CC Funds
Sg Talk: If put WP in charge of the country, what will be the outcome???
Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: PAP voter refusing to pay S&C cont’d
Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: AHPeTC: Sadly PAP IB gets it right
Leong Sze Hian: “All bloggers are equal, but some are more equal than others”?
WonderPeace: Political Busking By MIW should be regulated!
Evergreen Bamboo: Small talks about Town Councils
否极泰来 Piji Tailai: The Coming of Humble, HDB-type PM in Singapore?
A Singaporean at Home: Town Council debacle: That sinking feeling.
Lemon Today: How to Cook EXCUSES? Sylvia Lim?
Five Stars and a Moon: Why is AHPETC in the red?
Heart Truths: PAP Which Needs to Be Transparent & Accountable for Our CPF
My Singapore News: AHPETC – MND’s statistics
Calvin Cheng: “Been reading online articles that claim that PAP town councils”
UTAT: Social Media Takes On Town Council

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