Auditing Government's COVID-19 Spending for Financial Years 2020 and 202106 Feb 2023
Parliamentary Question by Mr Yip Hon Weng:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance in light of the recommendations in the Third Report of the Public Accounts Committee (a) has the Ministry begun the audit of the $72.3 billion in COVID-19 spending for financial year 2020 and 2021; (b) if so, when will the findings be released; and (c) whether the Ministry intends to engage the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) to audit this spending as it was not covered in the thematic audit by the AGO.
Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong:
AGO carried out a thematic audit in FY2021/22 covering selected COVID-19 related procurement and expenditure at three agencies: MOM, HPB and SLA. AGO’s on-going audits for FY2022/23 will cover the Jobs Support Scheme, Rental Relief Framework (Cash Grants), Rental Support Scheme and SingapoRediscovers Vouchers Scheme. The expenditure incurred by the agencies for the schemes or areas subjected to AGO’s audit add up to $32.3 billion and form part of the $72.3 billion of COVID-19 spending. Using a risk-based approach, AGO may choose to audit other selected areas of COVID-19 spending in their on-going and subsequent reviews.
Besides the Auditor-General's Office’s (AGO)’s audits, agencies have conducted internal audits on COVID-19 spending since early 2022, which include reviews on the effectiveness of internal controls, as well as the validity and accuracy of payments. Findings and remedial actions from the internal audits are reported to the respective agencies’ senior management, as well as to their Audit Committees and Boards in the case of statutory boards.
The $72.3 billion in COVID-19 spending included a broad range of public expenditure to safeguard public health and enable safe-reopening, and support measures for individuals and businesses in the form of grants, financing assistance, tax rebates and vouchers. Over half of the COVID-19 expenditure have been audited, and the remaining audits are ongoing and are expected to be completed by the end of financial year 2024.