Joint MND-HDB Statement on Court of Appeal Judgment of 27 Nov 2015

Nov 27, 2015

MND and HDB welcome the ruling by the Court of Appeal (see Annex A), which is in the interest of residents and will improve accountability of public funds.

By way of background, MND and HDB jointly applied for the appointment of independent accountants to Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) in the interest of public governance and accountability, and in the interest of residents of AHPETC. As the High Court had earlier held that HDB, and not MND, is the proper party to seek a court order to compel AHPETC to comply with its obligations under the Town Councils Act, HDB filed an application to be joined as a party to the proceedings.

We note that the Court of Appeal has allowed HDB’s application to be joined as a party to the proceedings and made various orders against AHPETC to compel its compliance with the Town Councils Act and Town Councils Financial Rules. These included an order that AHPETC make all outstanding sinking fund transfer(s) within three months, and an order that AHPETC must appoint independent accountants to assist in identifying its outstanding non-compliances with section 35(c) of the Town Councils Act, advise it on appropriate remedial steps to be taken, and establish whether any past payments made by AHPETC were improper and ought therefore to be recovered.

We welcome the statement by the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) that it fully accepts the judgement by the Court of Appeal and will comply with all the orders made by the Court.

Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) Operating Grants

With regard to the Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) operating grants, MND respects the Court of Appeal’s view that this is a matter for the Minister for National Development to specify the conditions on which he will make the grants and for the Town Council to decide if it will accept the grants.

As reiterated in our correspondences with the Town Council, MND has been and remains prepared to disburse the S&CC grants to the Town Council, subject to appropriate safeguards to ensure that the grants are properly managed and spent in the interest of residents. MND will disburse the S&CC grants once the appropriate safeguards are in place. This will include the Town Council’s accountants having been appointed to ensure that the funds are properly used and receiving the Town Council’s cooperation.

MND stands ready to re-engage AHTC on the above so that the grants can be disbursed soon, with the necessary safeguards in place. We also look forward to the Town Council’s cooperation with HDB in the carrying out of the Court orders.