AIM deal given all clear: MND review
A team tasked to review the sale of the Town Council Management System software belonging to PAP Town Councils to a company called Action Information Management or AIM, owned by the PAP, has found that the transaction has complied with the Town Councils Act and the Town Council Financial Rules.
The team also found there was no conflict of interest in the sale of the software.
In its report released on Friday, the team lead by Deputy Secretary at the National Development Ministry Tay Kim Poh also proposed that the government consider a strategic and comprehensive review of town councils.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had called for the review in January "in the interest of transparency" and to ensure that "public funds were safeguarded and residents' interests were not compromised".
Mr Lee had also asked for a review of the fundamental nature of town councils.
In its review, the team went back to the Town Councils Act and its financial rules.
The report said there was no misuse or loss of public monies.
It said AIM did not make a profit.
Its Directors were not paid any fees.
The company in fact, sustained a loss during the one-year sale and leaseback arrangement of the computing software.
The report added the PAP town councils had acted in good faith "in the interests and for the benefit of their residents".
"They crafted a contract with terms which explicitly assured against any increase in maintenance fees while they sourced for a new TCMS (Town Council Management System) software," said Permanent Secretary at National Development Ministry Benny Lim in a letter to the Prime Minister.
The team also said that the Town Councils Act does NOT prohibit transactions with persons or entities associated with political parties.
Town Councils, it said were set up for, and fulfil a political purpose.
"In the administration of the Act, latitude has always been given to MPs, across parties, to exercise autonomy, where they see fit, in employing or appointing those who share their political agenda or are affiliated to their parties," said Permanent Secretary at the National Development Ministry, Benny Lim, in a letter to the Prime Minister.
But the team also observed that this very nature of town councils raises a "constant risk of politicising" the council's administration.
It said this may not always lead to outcomes beneficial to the interests of residents.
In particular, the team noted that a broader issue which merits further study, is how to ensure continuity of services to residents, in the event of a change of MPs, especially if they're from different political parties.
In a separate statement, Mr Lee said the government accepts the findings and recommendations of the review.
He said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan will deliver a Ministerial Statement on the review, when Parliament next sits on the 13th of this month.
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