Desmond Lee, the Minister of State for National Development and MP for Jurong GRC, issued a statement on 7 November 2014, criticising WP for accumulating arrears and running a deficit in the management of its town council, AHPETC.
Mr Lee, who is the son of former Cabinet minister Lee Yock Suan, said:
“Before merger, Aljunied had an operating surplus of $3.3m. Within two years, the merged AHPETC’s financial position has deteriorated rapidly. The operating surplus of $3.3m Aljunied had in FY10 had turned into an operating deficit of $734,000 in FY12.”
On Saturday (15 Nov), former PAP chairman Lim Boon Heng also took a swipe at WP at a grassroots event (‘Lim on arrears: What’d happen if WP were to run SG?‘).
Mr Lim said that the WP-run town council’s swing from an operating surplus to a deficit in the short span of 3 years is worrying.
“If they (WP) can’t even manage a simple thing like a town council, then it begs the big question: If you put them in charge of the country, what will be the outcome?” he added.
WP chairman Sylvia Lim has told the media that the town council would respond in due course. She has previously said that the town council is checking the arrears data and will address the matter later after the financial information of AHPETC has been sorted out.
We examined the annual reports of several town councils and found that, in reality, all are running deficits (‘Desmond Lee, all town councils run deficits!‘).
In fact, all the town councils require government grants to operate as the conservancy charges collected from HDB residents are not enough to cover expenses, generally speaking.
We did try to review the report on AMKTC’s website [Link] but it only carried the latest report (FY13/14). Past reports are not available.
This is AMKTC’s FY13/14 report and here are our findings:
AMKTC includes Ang Mo Kio GRC (headed by PM Lee) and Sengkang West SMC (headed by Dr Lam Pin Min), with a total of 205,953 electors [Link].
As can be seen, even AMKTC ran a deficit in its financial year ending 31 Mar 2014. The deficit (after tax but before government grants) was $6,153,000.
The government gave a total grant of $13.9 million to AMKTC. After transferring a portion to the Sinking Funds and the Town Improvement & Project Funds, the actual government grant in the income and expenditure statement for AMKTC was $8.3 million. Subtracting the deficit of $6,153,000 from this actual grant gave AMKTC a surplus of $2,116,000.
Total grant per elector: $68.
The financials (FY12/13) of other town councils which have been examined by TRE are as follows:
It is interesting to note that both Tanjong Pagar TC and Ang Mo Kio TC received more than $10 million of government grants each (FY12/13 and FY13/14 respectively).
But for WP, prominent blogger Leong Sze Hian reported that government grants to AHPETC have been decreasing (‘Govt grants to Aljunied decreased 73% after PAP lost to WP?‘):
Govt grants decreased by $19.4m after the loss (of Aljunied GRC) to WP?
Government grants (to AHPETC) were about $26.7 million, $7.3 million and $7.3 million, for the years ended 31 March 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.
So, does it mean that Aljunied’s government grants decreased by about $19.4 million ($26.7 minus $7.3 million) or a whopping 73%, after it was lost to the WP?
Why do this to Singaporeans in Aljunied?
If this is the case, as a resident of Aljunied and on behalf of my fellow Aljunied residents, and if I may say all Singaporeans – Why?
In any case, it seems that TPTC and AMKTC are really well taken care of by the government.
What do you think?
This story was first published onTR Emeritus.
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