A*STAR, the research institute that reports to the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been found to have refused initial audit reports and presently cannot account for S$18 million in spending of government grant money.
This was flagged by the Auditor-General’s Office in its report yesterday (17 Jul).
Audit reports were not obtained for 31 out of 57 projects, totalling S$18.48 mil in grant expenditure, even though the terms and conditions required recipients to submit the reports.
According to the AGO, A*STAR said the key reason for not obtaining the audit reports was that it had “carried out its own reviews”.
However, the AGO noted that A*STAR’s own reviews cannot replace checks performed by auditors as the scope and extent of checks were different.
For example, auditors would verify the accuracy and validity of transactions by tracing source documents, but this was not carried out by A*STAR.
A*STAR has since indicated that it will obtain the required audit reports.
The AGO also found that A*STAR had not monitored contributions to industry partners for S$3.79 million in contributions to check that they had delivered on their commitment.
The commitment of these contributions was matched by S$2.73 million of A*STAR’s grants.
Industry partners were supposed to return any excess grants received.
A*STAR has since managed to obtain supporting documents for only S$2.17 million out of the total industry commitment of S$3.79 million.