The Ministry of National Development (MND) says the external accountants appointed by Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) is not good enough to carry out the audit of the town council’s finances.
It says it will withhold S$14 million in grants to AHPETC until indpendent accountants are appointed.
The MND added that its insistence on the appointment of independent accountants is aimed at safeguarding government grants to AHPETC, and not part of a “political dispute”.
AHPETC has said that it has enough to last till June this year.
The MND made an application at yesterday’s court hearing (4 May) to appoint independent accountants in AHPETC to oversee lapses previously flagged by the Attorney-General’s Chambers over the town council’s finances.
It said that the external accounting firm appointed by AHPETC, Audit Alliance, and financial consultants Business Assurance do not have good track records.
Acting for the MND, lawyer Aurill Kam said Business Assurance was a sole proprietorship set up last February and does not appear to have the necessary expertise to advise on or carry out reviews.
She added that it does not appear to have a good understanding of town council operations.
Ms Kam said even when completed, the work of both companies would not shed light on any wrongful payments, breach of duty, or unlawful conduct.
She said this means there would be no duplication in the scope of work by court-appointed independent accountants.
The MND had stated in March that it is looking at independent accountants such as PricewaterhouseCoopers or other accountants deemed suitable to probe AHPETC’s accounts.