Parliamentary Question by Mr Png Eng Huat:
To ask the Minister for Finance based on the findings in the Report of the Auditor-General for FY2016/17, whether AGO will direct all the entities in the Report to investigate all improper payments made and determine the amount of money to recover.
Parliamentary Reply by Senior Minister of State Ms Indranee Rajah:
The Auditor General's Report reflects its findings in respect of two types of audit conducted every year on government agencies. The first concerns whether the accounts of the government are reliable and prepared in accordance with the law. The second concerns the rules and procedures in individual public agencies, for example, whether the rules and processes are adequate and have been complied with.
2. On the former, the Auditor General's Office (AGO) has given the Government Financial Statements this year an unmodified audit opinion, as has been the case in previous years. In other words, in the AGO’s opinion, the Financial Statements have been presented, in all material respects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework. This means that the accounts of the Ministries, Departments and Organs of State have all been found to be reliable and prepared in accordance with the law. On the latter, the AGO has highlighted in its Report some areas in which there have been procedural lapses and where the government agencies can do better. We take these findings seriously.
Recovery of Public Monies
3. Let me address Mr Png’s question on investigating all improper payments and its recovery.
4. I should clarify at the outset that there is no indication in the AGO Report of any payments due to fraud, misfeasance or dishonesty. The cases highlighted by AGO this year largely concerned overpayments and payments made without prior approval, arising from human error, negligence or failure to follow established procedures.
5. In each of these cases, agencies are taking prompt actions to recover any monies which might have been erroneously paid out. AGO noted that SCORE has recovered the overpaid amounts. EDB has completed the remedial action for all payment related lapses, including recovery of monies in the two incidences of overpayments. MSF is also taking corrective actions to make good under-reimbursements and to recover over-reimbursements for Government-Paid Paternity Leave scheme. MOH also completed its review of the claims by its agents and service providers. There is no overpayment as the additional sums claimed by its agents have not been paid out. MOH will only be reimbursing its agents for the correct amount due to them.
6. The government agencies are taking the necessary corrective actions in respect of the lapses highlighted in the AGO Report.