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Parliamentary Replies

Governance Framework Practised at Government Agencies and Ministries to Ensure Adequate Oversight and Monitoring of Timely and Accurate Payments are Made by Qualified Teams

13 Sep 2021

Parliamentary Question by Ms Foo Mee Har:

To ask the Minister for Finance what is the governance framework being practised at Government agencies and Ministries to ensure adequate oversight and monitoring of timely and accurate payments are being made by the qualified teams.

Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong:

There are rules and guidelines on financial controls which govern public agencies in carrying out various finance functions including payments. Heads of agencies are responsible for ensuring that sound accounting practices and adequate internal controls are in place. Let me elaborate using some examples.

Our payment processing cycle is automated with system controls to ensure timely and accurate payments. Invoices are received electronically from suppliers via the electronic invoicing network, thereby reducing the risks of handling paper invoices and data-entry error. Invoices are then automatically matched against the purchase order and goods/services receipt note. Prior to that, public officers are required to check supporting documents, and verify that the works are completed satisfactorily. For instance, prior to certifying payments for facility management services, the officer has to verify documentation such as service records, maintenance audit reports and inspection checklists. The officer also needs to conduct test-checks to ascertain that the contractors have met the performance standards.

Agencies can proactively monitor the status of their payments to suppliers and benchmark the timeliness of their payments via dashboards on the financial data analytics system. Such tools and practices have enabled agencies to achieve a prompt payment rate of 98% in FY2020.

We strengthen internal controls through on-going efforts to develop capabilities. Some examples are:

(a) Strengthening internal audit capabilities, including the use of data analytics to conduct post-disbursement checks on payments and grants to identify anomalies.

(b) All finance officers are required to attend training courses that cover key financial procedures, including payments and internal controls. These are reinforced at milestone programmes and training sessions throughout the officers’ career.

We will continue to review our financial procedures and systems to maintain their effectiveness. As stewards of public resources, we are firmly committed to ensuring a strong governance system.