AHPETC Banded Red In Two Categories In MND Report

The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) has been banded “red” again in two areas in the latest Town Council Management report, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Tuesday (Dec 1).

The annual Town Council Management Report assesses the town councils on five indicators – estate cleanliness, estate maintenance, lift performance, service and conservancy charges (S&CC) arrears management and corporate governance. The town councils’ performance is rated in three bands – green, amber or red.

In the latest report, MND said most town councils performed well last year, although some “could do better” in the area of estate maintenance, S&CC arrears management and corporate governance.

Ten town councils scored “amber” in the estate maintenance category. The obstruction of common areas was the topmost observation, accounting for 36 per cent of total estate maintenance observations, the report said. Such obstructions are fire hazards and can hamper evacuation efforts during emergencies.


This is the third successive report that the Workers’ Party-led Town Council has been banded “red” for corporate governance, and the fourth successive report it has been banded “red” for S&CC arrears management.

AHPETC was banded “red” under S&CC arrears management for failing to submit its monthly S&CC arrears report for the assessment period, “even though it was reminded to do so and extensions of deadline were granted”, MND said, adding that most of the Town Council’s S&CC arrears reports since May 2013 are still outstanding.

Under corporate governance, the Town Council was banded “red” due to three legal and regulatory contraventions as indicated by its own auditor’s findings and its self-declared corporate governance checklist, the report said.

In the FY2013 report, the Town Council was banded “red” as it had not shown that it had rectified the various legal and regulatory contraventions for FY2011 and FY2012, and had not submitted its FY2013 audited financial statements, auditor’s report, auditor’s management letter and self-declared corporate governance checklist.

It subsequently made the required submissions for FY2013 on Jun 30 this year, which showed four regulatory contraventions. AHPETC would still have been banded “red” in the FY2013 report if it had submitted the required documents on time and therefore no revision of this rating was needed, the ministry said.

Chua Chu Kang Town Council and Potong Pasir Town Council were also banded “amber” for S&CC arrears management.

Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council received an “amber” rating for corporate governance on a “technicality”, the report said. The Town Council had incorrectly classified its residential rooftop antenna Temporary Occupation License income under its commercial property fund for FY2014, due to a data migration error when it moved to a new computer system. It has since made the necessary rectifications.


Responding to the report, chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council Pritam Singh said in a press release on Tuesday that the “red bandings for S&CC arrears management and corporate governance are issues that the Town Council has been working to address”.

Mr Singh added that a new Town Council management software system has been approved to tackle the issues.

“Despite incremental enhancements made to the existing IT system over the last few years, there remain inherent limitations which continue to contribute to some management and reporting challenges associated with S&CC arrears management and corporate governance,” he said. “The new system is expected to be operational within 18 to 24 months from the award of tender.”

The chairman also highlighted that they had appointed external consultants in March 2015 to advise the Town Council on compliance matters to address the Auditor-General’s Office’s (AGO) findings published in February 2015.

“In light of the recent Court of Appeal judgment, the TC will appoint an accountant(s) as mandated by the Court. The TC will work with the accountant, MND and HDB to facilitate the transfer of the outstanding government grants and make the mandatory sinking fund transfers,” said Mr Singh.


In response to the report on Tuesday, the Chua Chu Kang and Potong Pasir town councils said they have stepped up efforts to improve the “amber” rating they both received under S&CC arrears management and estate maintenance.

“This is the first time Chua Chu Kang Town Council has received an ‘amber’ rating for arrears management,” said MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC, Mr Zaqy Mohamad.

He noted that an increase in appeals by residents to delay payment or lower their arrears instalments caused the S&CC arrears for three months or more to increase and exceed the MND threshold “marginally”.

He said: “Immediately, the TC stepped up its efforts with house visits and worked closely with social assistance agencies to help deserving needy cases. Families with financial difficulties who receive help are often better able to pay their arrears.”

“By late March 2015, we were back in ‘green’, as residents affected needed time to have their cases evaluated and manage their arrears,” he added. “However, this was not in time to overturn the results during the evaluation period of Apr 1, 2014 to Mar 31, 2015. We have since been in ‘green’ status”.

Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, MP for Potong Pasir, said his Town Council has also been “working tirelessly with our residents who have fallen in arrears with their payments of S&CC”.

“We have contacted these residents and are working closely with them to deal with their arrears,” he said. “Often times, we have taken into account their financial circumstances and have arranged a scheme for them to make payment of their S&CC in instalments. This is done on a case-by-case basis.”

He added: “We are pleased to announce that we have made good headway in the past six months and our S&CC arrears have improved. Our Town Council will continue to work on further reducing our S&CC arrears.”

On estate maintenance, Mr Zaqy said Chua Chu Kang Town Council is “constantly working to improve our rating in this area”.

He said: “More than 50 per cent of the highlighted issues in the Town Council Management Report are caused by corridor obstruction and unauthorised fixtures by residents. This will be a focus area to continue our efforts to educate residents in helping to manage corridor clutter and illegal fixtures.

“We have also stepped up activity by our officers to proactively manage building defect issues moving forward to enhance the maintenance of our estate.”

Mr Sitoh said that Potong Pasir Town Council is also stepping up efforts to ensure estates are in compliance with MND rules. He pointed out that Potong Pasir is a mature estate, and as such, many of the HDB blocks are “older and in need of more maintenance”.

“We have been aggressively pursuing our Home Improvement Programme (HIP) to renew our HDB blocks and the homes of our residents,” he said. “As a result of the intensive HIP works, further defects, such as spalling concrete and damaged plaster/cracks, have emerged. These will be dealt with in due course through the HIP works.”

Mr Sitoh added: “On the issue of obstruction and unauthorised fixtures in common areas, our Town Council property officers are in active surveillance of such issues.

“Once observed, we will advise our residents to remove such obstruction and unauthorised fixtures. Some do so immediately, while others take a longer time to comply.  However, if residents fail to comply after a reasonable length of time, our Town Council will intervene and remove these obstruction and unauthorised fixtures by enforcement.”


Source: www.channelnewsasia.com

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