Ensuring Strong Governance for Government Funds and Grants08 Jan 2018
Parliamentary Question by Mr Zaqy Mohamad:
To ask the Minister for Finance (a) whether the Government's current policies and governance of funding and grants are robust; and (b) what other measures is the Ministry considering to strengthen governance across schemes that are administered across the whole of Government.
Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat:
Singapore has a sound system of governance that delivers good outcomes at relatively lower spending levels compared to many other countries. We achieve this by ensuring that public monies are used appropriately and properly accounted for.
2 Government agencies commit to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all programmes and schemes. These are reviewed regularly to ensure they remain relevant, useful and fulfil their intended outcomes. Value-For-Money reviews are also centrally conducted to assess the cost-effectiveness of key programmes, and often lead to recommendations for further improvements.
3 The rules in the Government Instruction Manuals and Finance Circulars require agencies to have an effective system of internal audit and financial controls. All agencies are required to report their internal control measures and key internal audit findings to their management and the Ministry of Finance.
4 For major expenditures, approval is subject to rigorous evaluation. The Gateway process for development projects, for example, involves reviews by a panel of private and public sector technical experts and approval by the Development Planning Committee at the Ministerial level.
5 Government agencies are subject to independent audits, and the audit scope covers the use of the grants that are disbursed. Agencies also put in place safeguards against abuse, for example, through a system of fraud detection, checks and audits before claims are approved and paid-out.
6 In addition to these controls, there are learning platforms to promote best practices and share emerging trends on governance and internal controls. For example, the Accountant-General’s Department recently issued a guide to help agencies in their grant administration. The guide lays out best practices in grant design, evaluation and approval, project monitoring, and grant disbursement.
7 On the whole, we have a sound system in place, managed by committed and competent staff. But improving financial governance is an ongoing and continuous journey. We will continue to be vigilant, and take steps to strengthen our risk management practices and safeguards.