Commentary: Civil Servants, Unelected Can Carry This?

Dear readers,

Holier than thou! The PM in his parliamentary debate said and I quote, ‘It is a big decision, S$5 billion of supplementary budget. Civil servants, unelected can carry this?’

Let me explain. In the Civil Service, financial prudence comes in many parts and this is embedded in their in-house Instruction Manual.

It consists of many roles such as accounting officer, authorizing officer, approving officer and certifying officer.

It is the civil servants who carry out the lifting work in their various finance roles as their work is also subject to scrutiny by both internal and external auditors from the Auditor-General’s Office.

At other times, public auditors are also invited to scrutinise financial records such as KPMG, for example on the finances of Aljunied Hougang Town Council.

Political appointees have no financial role, safe to say merely ‘approving’ the use of the $5 billion.

If the PM is talking about decision making, it is the civil servants who are making the decision behind the scene, collating, presenting, advising where the draw down and transfer of money comes from.

So is the prime minister trying to draw wool over people’s eyes when he said, ‘It is a big decision, S$5 billion of supplementary budget.

Civil servants, unelected can carry this?’

Put it another way, can political appointees manage $5 billion without Civil Servants?

Gilbert Tan

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