Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why are we paying our ministers obscenely high salaries again?

"Few countries have implemented our philosophy and practice of benchmarking and paying public officers salaries that are pegged to the market, but this system has worked for us. Competitive wages have helped us bring in and retain able men and women in Government and in the Public Service in Singapore. This policy has served us well. We must maintain this competitive advantage - a clean, effective and efficient Public Service. We need a team of good people to develop the vision, ideas and plans, as well as to see through the execution."

-- Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence

Auditor-General takes some ministries to task

In the findings by the Auditor-General's report for the financial year 2009-2010, there are countless lapses and weaknesses in the internal controls over the management of public funds in several ministries and Government agencies.

The Ministry of Finance was cited for the misuse of Government payouts meant for patients at six nursing homes.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had over 50 cases of overpayment of salaries, bonuses, over-time claims, medical and dental subsidies to mission staff, as well as double payment of medical expenses.

Security lapses were found in the Government accounting system - "NFS@Gov" - administered by the Accountant-General's Department. Over 640 end-user accounts were wrongly given access rights to an application designer tool. Some of the accounts allowed users to modify programs or records in the system.

There was an unauthorised testing of a computer system at the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority that saw two invoices generated with incorrect amounts.

Singapore Police Force did not collect $648,000 in revenue. Between 1997 and last year, town councils and statutory boards were not charged the $25 fee for enforcement of each warrant of arrest.

Donations of $34,907 went to the accounts of voluntary welfare organisations instead of three welfare homes.

Late refund of cash bail. As of Aug 31 last year, 46 cases amounting to $440,450 were outstanding for periods ranging from 41 days to 1,694 days (the guideline is up to 23 working days for refunds). Prior to that, 59 refunds, amounting to $571,500, were found to have been refunded 49 days to 340 days after the court cases had concluded.

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