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Parliamentary Replies

Ensuring Government Agencies' Compliance with New Grants Governance Framework

05 Oct 2020
Parliamentary Question by Mr Louis Chua Kheng Wee:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) how does the new Grants Governance Framework and rules issued by the Ministry to all agencies differ from the existing framework currently adopted; and (b) how does the Ministry plan to ensure consistent implementation across agencies.

Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:

The new grants governance framework sets out clear rules and provides guidance on the entire grants management process. It systematically covers the different stages of the grant life-cycle – from grant design, approval and disbursement, to monitoring and anomaly detection. Emphasis is placed on the importance of proper planning and risk management, so as to ensure effective use of public funds and to safeguard against fraud and abuse.

The rules are supplemented by a good practice guide that provides helpful examples and practical advice. These measures aim to raise the standard of grants administration across all agencies. 

This new framework brings together in one document the guidelines on grants administration that were previously in different documents. The framework also addresses the gaps identified through a multi-agency review of grants management which was completed last year, as well as learning points from the thematic audits of our grant schemes undertaken by the Auditor-General’s Office. For example, we have strengthened the supervisory measures for third-party grants administrators and the use of intermediaries.

MOF has taken steps to ensure consistent implementation across agencies. We have communicated the new framework widely and at different levels. For instance, MOF consulted various stakeholders involved in operations, internal audit, and finance across many agencies in developing the framework. This ensures that the rules and guidelines are written in a way that the agencies understand easily, so that they are clear on how to implement them. Agencies also subject their grants to regular audits  as part of overall governance to ensure compliance with the rules. 

In addition, as agencies’ senior management play an important role in setting the right tone on grants governance and adherence to guidelines, MOF has briefed all Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Government Agencies, and Directors of Finance. We will continue our active engagements with grant practitioners and the internal audit community on the rules and good practices. 

Finally, the new framework also aims to promote simpler and consistent ways of administering grants, so that our citizens and businesses, especially the SMEs can benefit when they need to apply for different grants. MOF will continue to monitor the implementation of the grants governance framework, and look out for further practical ways to improve it.