Much Ado About Town Councils and Corporate Governance
WP-managed Aljunied Town Council had a red mark on its corporate governance score card in a MND report on how town councils managed their financial records and procedures. WP explained that the entire system was run and terminated by Action Information Management, the company which previously supported the PAP town council pre-GE 2011. As it was terminated, Aljunied could not get a replacement system running from scratch and thus could not submit its report in time.
Action Information Management defended itself that Aljunied should have applied (and thus paid for) an extension of its services after September 2011. Should we give WP a break about its technical lack of compliance? As this is the first time they are running a town council and although it has been more than a year since they took over Aljunied, yes we should give WP some slack for its failure to submit an audit report promptly because its financial system was not in place. However, public patience is quickly running thin if WP continues to use that excuse in future of transition hiccups and being new in the job. They are in parliament already and should get its act together faster and better. If they can’t run a town council overnight, what about a country.
The other question we should ask is that Tampines and Jurong Town Councils had Amber ratings in their corporate governance, presumably despite submitting their audit reports on time. We would assume they had established practices in place etc. How and why did they get Amber ratings? Invested their money in mini-bonds again?
Firm defends itself against WP comment
Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012
SINGAPORE – The company that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council chairman Sylvia Lim identified as a factor for the town council’s less-than-stellar performance defended itself against the comment yesterday.
Last Friday, a performance report on town councils here by the National Development Ministry showed that Aljunied- Hougang Town Council was the only one that did not have a corporate-governance score.
The ministry said this was because the council had not submitted the auditor’s management letter in time.
Ms Lim said in a statement that a reason for the delay was that use of the council’s computer and financial systems was terminated by Action Information Management. The firm owns the systems, developed by the People’s Action Party town councils.
The Workers’ Party (WP) runs the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, formed after WP won Aljunied GRC at last year’s May General Election.
Ms Lim, who is WP’s chairman, said that following the election, her town council was notified that use of its computer and financial systems would be terminated from August last year “due to material changes to the membership of the town council”.
Ms Lim said this meant the council had to develop its own systems in a two-month timeframe, which was a “near-impossible task”.
However, Mr S. Chandra Das, chairman of Action Information Management, clarified in a letter to the media yesterday that the council had requested two extensions from the firm on the use of the systems.
The first one was until Aug 31 last year and the second one was until Sept 9 last year, which Mr Chandra Das said Action Information Management had “readily agreed” to.
“If Aljunied-Hougang Town Council had asked for a longer extension, Action Information Management would have similarly agreed,” he said.
“However, after the second extension, (the council) did not ask for further extensions.”