According to Mr Charles Chong, Member of Parliament for Punggol East (PE) single member constituency (SMC), the handover of accounts for PE Town Council has been progressing, with both parties eager to “move on” and complete the handover by 1st December – which is the deadline set by the Ministry of National Development.
“I think both sides are aiming for a good settlement so that we can move on. I don’t think it is in their interest — neither is it in ours — to drag this on. And it’s definitely not in the interest of the residents,” said Mr Chong, adding that he will request for the MND to restore its grants after getting a “clean set of accounts”.
The MND has been withholding 2 years worth of grants totalling $14 million from the former Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) – which has been dissolved to form the new Aljunied-Hougang Town Council after GE2015 – citing reasons that it does not believe the funds will be used properly.
During the recent General Elections, the handling of Town Council accounts had become a sore issue between the campaigning parties, with the People’s Action Party (PAP) attacking the Workers’ Party (WP) for its management of its Town Council finances. With regards to Punggol East, the PAP had claimed that there was a surplus in the accounts when Punggol East was handed over. However, the WP has disputed this.
To facilitate the handover, AHTC has engaged an external auditor to audit Punggol East’s accounts from Apr 1.
“Too many figures were thrown back and forth during the election,” said Mr Chong. “Everybody gave different snapshots of the same account. Everybody can more or less justify what they say, depending on the point in time when the thing happened. I suppose during election everybody sort of tries to use it to their advantage, (the) result of which causes more confusion than clarity. Now that election is over … let the experts work it out, and see how it goes.”
He added: “What happened in the past, I’m really not interested. I am just interested in what is due back to us.”