Draft Code of Governance for Town Councils

Apr 1, 2019 12:00

The Ministry of National Development (MND) invites the public to provide feedback on the draft Code of Governance for Town Councils (TCs). The public can send their feedback to MND between 1 April 2019 and 30 April 2019.


TCs were formed in 1989 to give elected Members of Parliament (MPs) the autonomy and latitude to run their own Towns, in partnership with the residents. Each Town can therefore develop its own character and identity, reflecting the aspirations of its residents and Town Councillors.

Today, TCs collectively manage about $2 billion worth of public and residents’ monies. As public institutions entrusted with significant amounts of public funds, TCs should have good governance and management controls in place to remain transparent and accountable to their residents. In recent years, MND has taken steps to strengthen the regulatory framework for TCs, while allowing the TCs to continue to retain autonomy over their operations.

At the passing of the Town Councils (Amendment) Bill in March 2017, MND had shared that it would be working with the TCs to develop a Code of Governance (“Code”) for TCs. The Code would complement the existing legislative framework by setting out principles of good governance and highlight best practices that can guide the TCs in better executing their fiduciary responsibilities and improving accountability. 

MND has worked with the appointed consultant, Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd (EY) to draft the Code. MND has also appointed and consulted an Advisory Panel, comprising experienced academics, governance experts and industry practitioners, for their expert views and perspectives during the drafting process. In December 2018, MND consulted the TCs to seek their feedback on the draft Code. 

About the Draft Code

The objectives of the Code are to:

(a) Enhance the effectiveness of TCs by sharing recommended governance practices;
(b) Provide guidance to the Town Councillors to help them carry out their fiduciary duties; 
(c) Improve the transparency of TCs’ operations to build public trust and confidence.

The Code is based on five guiding principles, namely integrity, objectivity, accountability, fairness and transparency. These guiding principles underpin the provisions in the Code, which span four domains: (a) Council Effectiveness, (b) Internal Controls & Processes, (c) Financial Management and (d) Vendor Management (see Annex for details). The Code provisions set out best practices which TCs are encouraged to adopt, through a comply-or-explain regime. 

In drafting the Code, MND has taken reference from the Code of Charities and Institutions of Public Character and the Code of Corporate Governance where appropriate, and adapted the provisions to suit the unique operating context of TCs. The Code will help TCs to carry out their duties effectively in the best interests of residents, and achieve higher standards of accountability and transparency to their residents. 

Public Feedback

The full text of the Code is available on the REACH portal at https://www.reach.gov.sg. Members of the public can submit their comments and suggestions on the draft Code by 30 April 2019, via the following channels:

- Email to: feedback@mnd.gov.sg  
- Fax to: 6325 7254
- Post to: Ministry of National Development
5 Maxwell Road #21-00
Tower Block MND Complex
Singapore 069110
Subject: Draft Code of Governance for Town Councils

MND will take the public feedback into consideration when finalising the Code, and with an aim to launch the Code in the third quarter of 2019.