30 July 2013

Corruption and Financial Crimes in Public Service

After a spate of high-profile cheating and corruption cases involving civil servants, the Prime Minister's Office commissioned a study by Commercial Affairs Department ("CAD") and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau ("CPIB") of public officers over the past five years.

The following are my comments on some of the findings, as reported by the local media.

Most cases of corruption and financial crimes within the civil service involved junior front-line officers.

It is rather evident that most cases of corruption and financial crimes will involve junior, rather than mid-level or senior, officers.  The manpower structure of most, if not all, civil service agencies is like pyramids, with junior officers outnumbering mid-level officers, and both outnumbering senior officers.

19 July 2013

Lapses In Procurement

We were recently reminded that Aljunied-Hougang Town Council ("AHTC") had appointed FM Solutions and Services Pte Ltd ("FMSS"), a company owned and run by close The Workers’ Party supporters, to manage AHTC in 2011, without tender and at a much higher price than the prevailing rate.
 
AHTC's explanation was that it appointed FMSS as its managing agent ("MA") for a period of one year from 15 July 2011 because it was directed to take over the management of the TC by 1 August 2011 and it had agreed to release Aljunied TC's incumbent MA from its contractual obligations.  Given the tight deadline and not wanting to disrupt TC services, AHTC decided not to call a tender for MA services for the transition period and instead engaged a qualified service provider who could commence work immediately.[2][3]

If AHTC had failed in its procurement of MA services in 2011, it was not alone.  The Auditor-General's report for FY2012/13 revealed lapses in the Government's procurement.[4]
 

16 July 2013

Cleaning of Food Centres vs. TCMS Sale and Leaseback — A Critical Comparison

It is timely to compare Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council's handling of the cleaning of the high areas at Blk 538 Bedok North Street 3 with the sale and leaseback of the town council management system by the 14 PAP-managed town councils with Action Information Management Pte Ltd in 2010.

CLEANING OF HIGH AREAS

Evidence
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan's dossier of evidence[1], which he presented in Parliament, was a collection of self-serving documents, including the following:

11 July 2013

Balakrishnan vs. AHPETC — Cleaning of High Areas at Food Centres Part III

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan ignored the advice of "many well-intended people" not to pursue the matter of the alleged additional cost of cleaning of high areas at two food centres in Bedok.

It was too mundane, and people wanted to move on.  But he felt a duty to bring up the matter yet again, because it meant more than clean ceilings to him.

Mr Balakrishnan said that the rules for town councils to pay for the annual cleaning of food centres had been established for a decade.

Who Should Pay?
It is reasonable to expect that the cost of the annual cleaning of food centres is, or should have been, taken into account when determining the quantum of monthly conservancy fees that the stall holders operating at the food centres should pay.

03 July 2013

Singapore's SIBOR Scandal

On 14 June, The Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") announced that it had completed a year-long review of the processes relating to submissions of benchmarks[1] by banks in Singapore.[2]

The review covered the Singapore dollar interest rate benchmarks — the Singapore Interbank Offered Rates ("SIBOR", the less well-known cousin of LIBOR, see below) and swap offered rates ("SOR") — and foreign exchange ("FX") spot benchmarks ("FX Benchmarks") used to settle non-deliverable forward FX contracts, between 2007 and 2011.
 
Based on its findings, MAS censured 20 banks and directed them to address their deficiencies in governance, risk management, internal controls, and surveillance systems, relating to these processes.  The banks were ordered to set aside additional statutory reserves with MAS at zero interest for one year.