Worker’s Party boasted its many years of town council management, did not notice the human errors, because they omitted to double count in their Apr 2013 S&CC report



29.4% S&CC arrears rate reported due to ‘human errors’: AHPETC

26 Jan 2015, CNA 

SINGAPORE: The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) announced on Monday (Jan 26) that its Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) arrears rate for three months and above for residential units is 5.66 per cent as of Sep 30, 2014. This is “drastically” lower than the 29.37 per cent reported in April 2013, it said.

The spike in figures was due to “reporting and human errors”, said AHPETC Chairman Sylvia Lim in the press release.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee had previously called the 29.4% arrears rate “shocking”. He also highlighted that the town council, run by the opposition Workers’ Party, had failed to submit its monthly S&CC arrears report since May 2013.

AHPETC said it needed time to have its data and processes reviewed internally and by consultants, before releasing the information. Ms Lim’s statement is reproduced in full below:

AHPETC wishes to announce that its S&CC arrears rate (for 3 months and above) for residential units as of Sep 30, 2014, is 5.66 per cent of households. The corresponding arrears rate for commercial units for the same period is 7.24 per cent.

We wish to explain that we are sharing the information now rather than earlier, as time was needed to have the data and process reviewed both internally and also by our consultants before release. AHPETC had also undertaken to explain further its arrears situation and management, which we now do.

Our review has found that the above S&CC arrears rates are generated from valid S&CC records that are maintained in the AHPETC’s financial system.

What AHPETC lacks is a fully operational computer system to assist AHPETC to do aggregated S&CC arrears reporting in the format required by the Ministry of National Development (MND). In the absence of such a system, all reports submitted to MND before this were prepared by staff based on data generated by AHPETC’s IT system and extracted through manual sorting and counting.

AHPETC acknowledges that this manual process is not the most ideal and efficient way of doing aggregated arrears reporting, as the data size is voluminous. The former Hougang Town Council was able to do such manual reporting in the past as the number of households under management then was a fraction of what AHPETC is handling.

Such a process is tedious and subject to reporting and human errors. In the aftermath of the withdrawal of the then-computer system in 2011, that was the only way for AHPETC to comply with the aggregated arrears reporting requirements from MND until AHPETC’s own system could be enhanced. AHPETC was thus submitting arrears reports to HDB late. In addition, on Jun 18, 2013, AHPETC informed HDB that it was still unable to submit the April 2013 arrears report as it was sorting out a bug in its IT programme for generating arrears reports.

The arrears rate of 29.4 per cent for April 2013 submitted to MND was an instance of reporting and human errors. An additional step of sorting to avoid double-counting of the same household was inadvertently omitted. A comparison of the arrears report submitted for March 2013 and April 2013 would have shown up the error, as the amount of arrears owed for 3 or more months for April 2013 came down by about S$88,000 from March 2013, but the percentage of households in arrears of 3 or more months increased drastically from 7.42 per cent for March 2013 to 29.4 per cent for April 2013. Please see table:

DATE Amount of arrears 3 months and above % of accounts 3 months and above
Mar 13Apr 13 S$2,018,080
7.42 per cent
29.37 per cent
Difference  S$88,487 -21.95 per cent

Unfortunately everyone did not notice the anomaly in the April 2013 report that was later published in the Town Council Management Report. We acknowledge the oversight, and regret the error in reporting to HDB.

Nonetheless, it is important to note that the accuracy, integrity, monitoring and management of each individual S&CC account are not compromised in any way by the manual statistics reporting process described above at any point in time.

Moving on to improvements, AHPETC embarked on a roadmap to enhance its aggregated arrears reporting module sometime in November 2014. It has completed and tested a module to aggregate S&CC data for 1 to less than 3 months and for 3 months and above aging. This enhancement will improve productivity in reporting.

AHPETC will strive to make further improvements to better serve its residents. We thank our residents and the public for their patience and understanding in this matter.

Sylvia Lim
Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol Eas Town Council





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