We refer to the Ministry of National Development (MND)’s media release on 4 June 2015 evening on its apparent reasons for an expedited appeal hearing before the Court of Appeal.
It is a gross misrepresentation and wrong of MND to say that Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) wants to have government grants “without conditions and accountability”.
From the onset of the High Court case, AHPETC had written to MND that it accepted that the Town Councils Act enabled the Minister to set conditions on the disbursement of grants to Town Councils. AHPETC then went further to agree to most of the conditions that MND had proposed for the disbursement of the grants for FY 14/15 and FY 15/16. To date, only two issues remain: the identity of external accountants to co-sign cheques drawing on the grants, and AHPETC’s request for the entire grant for FY 14/15 to be placed in its Sinking Funds.
The High Court Judge had noted that in his view, the remaining issues were minor and technical, and could be overcome. He further urged parties to reach a consensus so that the grants could be disbursed as soon as possible. Instead of heeding the Judge’s advice, MND filed an appeal against the judgment within 48 hours.
Be that as it may, AHPETC will still want to work with MND to resolve the remaining issues relating to the grants amounting to about $14 million expeditiously and out of court.
AHPETC agreed to an expedited appeal as it wishes to have finality and to move on from this unnecessary litigation, which is a distraction and also a drain on the Town Council’s precious resources.
AHPETC disagrees with MND’s reasons for the expedited appeal. AHPETC is continuing to review its financial and control processes. AHPETC also notes the decision of the High Court that there is no legal basis for MND to apply to court to impose conditions on the grants, and no legal basis for independent accountants to be appointed to carry out inquiries into AHPETC’s past transactions.
ALJUNIED-HOUGANG-PUNGGOL EAST TOWN COUNCIL
05 JUNE 2015