Chan Chun Sing addresses WP MP Png Eng Huat’s questions on the financial lapses by the People’s Association
Internal investigations by MCCY have highlighted concerns over the authenticity of some transactions related to Chingay 2017. PA has referred the matter to the police.
In July 2018, the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) flagged a number of financial lapses in government bodies in its 2017/2018 annual report.
The People’s Association (PA) was one of the agencies highlighted, and their lapses were related to procurement and contract management for major events, and weaknesses in overseas purchases and payments.
Today noted that this was the the second time lapses surrounding the award of contracts have been identified in the PA, with the AGO noting that it had raised a similar observation in its last audit for financial year 2014/2015.
The report noted:
“AGO found that PA and one of its Grassroots Organisations had not adhered to the Government procurement principles of open and fair competition, transparency, and value for money for two tenders (contract value totalling $500,000) and four quotations (contract value totalling $129,400).
There were also serious weaknesses in controls over overseas purchases and payments which could be exploited.”
Tenders and quotations of major celebrations audited
AGO had examined tenders related to the Mid-Autumn Festival 2016 and Chinese New Year 2017, totalling $1.68 million.
It also looked at quotations related to Chingay Parade 2017, amounting to $243,400.
On Nov. 20, Workers’ Party MP Png Eng Huat asked the following questions in Parliament about these lapses:
- Additional costs in the tender for the two major celebrations
- Allegedly inauthentic reimbursement claims for overseas purchases made by a PA officer for the Chingay Parade
- Whether statutory auditors of PA flagged such lapses since 2013
Administrative lapse, since rectified
Minister Chan Chun Sing, in his capacity as Deputy Chairman of the PA, rose to reply.
He clarified that there were no hidden costs.
Instead, the successful tenderer required in its proposal for the organiser to bear additional obligations related to transport and a site for lantern assembly.
These costs averaged $34,000 for each event from 2014 to 2016.
However, Chan said that the PA was “well aware” of these additional costs, as they had been bearing these expenses every year.
He said that the AGO had flagged this as an administrative lapse as the organiser did not take these costs into account when evaluating the tender for price comparison.
Chan said the organiser has acknowledged the lapse and put in place measures to prevent it from happening again.
Overseas purchases referred to Police investigation
On the reimbursement claims, Chan said that an independent investigation panel led by a senior officer from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth was set up in June 2018 to review purchases, procurement and payments related to Chingay 2017, as well as previous parades.
The panel has concluded its investigations and found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing.
However, as it still has concerns over the authenticity of some of the overseas transactions, the matter has been referred to the police.
Further steps may be taken once the police have finished their investigations.
Chan added that while previous audits did not flag these lapses, PA’s own internal audit identified that the overseas procurement for Chingay did not fully comply with approved procedures.
It was stopped in early 2017.
He said that the PA acknowledges and takes a serious view of the AGO’s observations, and will work to improve the procurement practices.
Top image adapted from Gov.sg’s YouTube Channel.