Some people are saying “AGO also found problems in government bodies, why is the government going on about AHTC?” Here are 4 serious problems auditors found in AHTC, but not in government bodies…
- Lapses left for more than a year
AGO follows up on the accounting lapses it finds every year. If any problems from last year haven’t been fixed, AGO would sound the alarm.
By contrast, AHTC’s accounting problems were first highlighted in MND’S Town Council Management Report in 2012. They haven’t been fixed till now. Sure, AHTC says they’re working on it. But they’ve been saying that for 4 years!
In fact, AHTC still hasn’t set up a proper accounting system. It recently introduced a new dodgy measure- dummy vendor codes that mask who payments are going out to. Does it look like they can really fix things?
- Hiding of accounts
The government bodies gave their accounts to the AGO. AGO revealed the problems to the public and will make sure government fixes them. That’s how a transparent, accountable government works.
AHTC repeatedly delayed handing over key accounts to auditors. In fact, they fought tooth and nail in court to avoid appointing a Big Four independent auditor. They also refused to let KPMG audit Punggol East’s accounts, and haven’t given key records to the Town Council now running Punggol East. Seem like people with something to hide. Instead of fighting in court, why can’t they spend that effort and money to fix their accounts?
- Payments to friends
Look- the ministries audited did screw up. They paid for things which they didn’t eventually use. They didn’t have people double-checking certain money flows.
But AGO didn’t find any ministry paying to its friends, like they found in AHTC. What they call in accounting language as “inadequate oversight of related party transactions”.
Let’s recap how WP has been paying its friends:
- After WP won Aljunied in 2011, they appointed FMSS to manage the town council *without calling a tender*.
- Sylvia Lim said no WP member has any interest in FMSS. But FMSS directors Danny Loh and How Weng Fan were the proposers and assenters for WP candidate Yaw Shin Leong in elections! They’re certainly WP supporters. Don’t be deceived by Sylvia Lim’s verbal sleight of hand.
- How and Loh also became the GM and secretary of the Town Council. This means they were signing cheques that used residents’ money to pay their own company!
- FMSS charged more than the market rate. In FY 13/14, when the then AHPETC had a deficit of $2 million, FMSS made $2 million from them. Why did AHPETC accept this?
- Sylvia Lim denied that they had lost any residents’ money to these friends. But then AHPETC tried to claw back money from FMSS through lawyers! Can we believe ANYTHING Sylvia Lim says?
- Widespread lack of integrity
KPMG pointed out that the problems at AHTC go beyond individual lapses. They said there were “pervasive” control failures and no “enforcement of integrity and ethical values”.
AGO did not say this about any government body.
Nobody is perfect. AGO finds issues in government bodies every year. But AHTC is the only place that it has found such big payments to friends. What’s more, AHTC is the only body to drag its problems year after year, and even have new problems every audit. Is this incompetence, dishonesty, or both? The residents who have been paying their hard-earned money to AHTC deserve an answer.