Some projects to upgrade neighbourhood facilities in the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) had to be cut as costs exceeded the approved budget, and not because the ward was run by the Opposition - a "mischievous distortion", said Minister of State for National Development Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman.
He also said it was "unfair" of Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh to blame Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) for the time it took to work with the town council on neighbourhood projects.
"The Ministry of National Development has been fair to AHPETC and has treated AHPETC no differently from other Town Council," said Dr Maliki at the 2015 Committee Of Supply Debate. "Indeed when it comes to exerting its autonomy even against prevailing HDB policies, it is the AHPETC that has been especially aggressive and often with total disregard to such national policies."
For example, a Neighbourhood Renewal Programme project to build a shelter over a basketball court at Serangoon North Ave 1 had to be cut because costs overran, Dr Maliki said.
"The local grassroots informed HDB that residents had the impression that the items were cut by HDB because AHPETC was run by the opposition. Again this is a mischievous distortion. These items were cut because the TC’s costs are higher and exceeded the approved budget," he added.
In 2013, AHPETC had proposed 90 Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC) and 52 Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) projects following consultations with residents. However, as the CIPC budget had been exceeded for the year, the CCCs had to prioritise 17 projects, which could be funded within the allocated budget, said Dr Maliki.
He added that the CCCs would need "a bit more time" to implement the projects.
Said Dr Maliki: "I don’t know why Mr Singh would now turn around, blame the CCCs for tardiness, and unfairly paint them in such a negative light in the eyes of the public, when the CCCs took the time and trouble to seek, go through, gave significant consideration to the TC’s proposals and were prepared to support many of them?
"I think the grassroots and the local community leaders are fully prepared to work with the TC to serve residents better. But it takes two hands to clap."