Progress Singapore Party NCMP Leong Mun Wai has questioned the People’s Association’s $800 million budget.
Speaking in parliament, he questioned the PA’s high spending on administration and significantly lower spending on activities and projects.
Leong flagged the PA’s operating expenditure for FY2021, stating that S$589 mil was spent on 2565 staff – which translates to a higher cost per staff than professionals working in GovTech or IRAS.
“Why is such an expensive administration structure needed when the main job of PA is to be a bridge between the government and the citizens, and much of the work of the PA is carried out by the grassroots volunteers and volunteer worker organisations?
We wholeheartedly support the hard work put up by the staff and the volunteers of PA to strengthen the social fabric of our country.
However, is there more that we can do to redefine the role of PA at a higher level, and to ensure that the funds are deployed in areas that help our needy Singaporeans most?”
Leong noted that this has been the case since 2016, when Workers’ Party’s Sylvia Lim questioned PA’s increasing budget, and whether the PA had deviated from its purpose of fostering social stability.
In response, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua said that the PA’s mission is to build up a cohesive population in Singapore and trust between people and the government, and hence needs to be “properly resourced”.
Explaining the S$589 mil devoted to operating expenditure versus S$207 mil on development, he said:
“It is, however, not very meaningful as the member suggests to compare operating budget to head counts as S$589 million includes both manpower as well as other operating expenditure. And much unlike other agencies like IRAS or GovTech, PA manages a whole host of community facilities all across Singapore, fully manned by full-time staff, and these include 108 CCs (community clubs) and 665 RC (residents’ committee) centres, which need regular maintenance, as well as other operating costs.”
Chua added that the money allocated to the PA has been put to good use.