(Source: www.channelnewsasia.com)

SINGAPORE: Lapses in financial controls and asset management have been uncovered at the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), also known as Sport Singapore, after an audit of Singapore government bodies.

Among these include late payments totalling S$970,700, which are “contrary to Government’s instructions” and constitute an “unfair business practice”, said the Auditor-General’s Office in its latest report released on Tuesday (Jul 18).

The SSC was among the bodies – two government ministries, one government fund and five statutory boards – that the AGO audited for the financial year of 2016/2017.

Sport Singapore said in a statement that it “will address all AGO findings”.

“We are committed to good corporate governance and are reviewing our processes to ensure these lapses do not recur. Where necessary, disciplinary inquiries have been initiated and persons found negligent will be held to account,” it said.

LATE PAYMENTS

AGO said that it checked 417 payments totalling S$970,700 which SSC made more than one year from the invoice date. More than two-thirds of them – 299 payments totalling S$661,900 – were made 1 to 3.6 years after the invoice date without valid reasons.

The payments checked were made from January 2014 to June 2016.

“Delaying payments to vendors after satisfactory delivery of goods and service is contrary to Government’s instructions which require all invoices received to be processed promptly,” the AGO’s report noted. “It is also an unfair business practice and SSC could be liable for late payment penalties.”

The SSC has informed AGO that it is “committed to paying suppliers on time and would review its payment processes”, according to the report.

To do so, it would be sending a creditor aging analysis report to its chief executive officer and chief financial officer regularly, and SSC’s senior management has since instituted weekly payment meetings to prevent recurrences. 

INADEQUATE CONTROLS OVER SPONSORED ELECTRONIC DEVICES

The SSC was also not able to produce adequate evidence to account for the whereabouts of 1,396 sponsored electronic devices valued at S$224,700. That amounted to 40.3 per cent of the value of the 2,790 devices checked by AGO.

“There was no assurance that the sponsored devices were properly accounted for and used for the intended purposes,” the report said.

In 2015, the SSC received a total of 3,946 units of sponsored mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras and smartwatches valued at S$835,500 for operations and marketing activities related to two major sporting events that year.

SSC’s procedures required sponsored items to be tracked and accounted for, and recipients to acknowledge receipt of items. However, AGO’s test checks of records for 2,790 devices found that the procedures “were not followed” for 1,396 devices with values ranging from S$148 to S$948 per unit.

“SSC could not produce adequate evidence or records to account for the whereabouts of these devices which AGO had enquired about in October 2016,” the report added.

SSC attributed the lack of records to the fast-paced nature of events in which the devices were given out, staff turnover, staff oversight and staff hired by its vendors for the events not being aware of the need to maintain and keep proper records.

Following the audit, SSC informed AGO that it was tracing available documentation to ascertain the whereabouts of the 1,396 units and would take disciplinary actions against those found responsible for any lapses. Moving forward, it would also remind its staff to ensure that proper documentation is maintained.

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