Thursday, 23 January 2014

WP welcomes grassroots' bid to secure govt funds for wards

By Andrea Ong, The Straits Times, 22 Jan 2014

THE Workers' Party (WP) yesterday welcomed the rare move, by grassroots bodies in the three constituencies under its charge, to get government funds for 17 estate improvement projects.

Said Ms Sylvia Lim, chairman of the town council (TC) that runs Aljunied GRC, Hougang and Punggol East: "We welcome the intended submission of the projects for approval, and look forward to providing the TC's professional input on the projects for the benefit of our residents."

Her response comes a day after the Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs) of the three constituencies said they will ask the National Development Ministry to let them draw on funds from the CIPC, or Community Improvement Projects Committee, for the projects.

The CIPC funds have been a point of contention in opposition wards as the ministry disburses the money to town councils through the CCCs, which are grassroots bodies under the People's Association (PA).

The adviser to these grassroots bodies, usually the People's Action Party electoral candidate, has to apply for the grant.

This process has led to friction in the past when opposition MPs accused these advisers of denying them use of the CIPC funds.

But in the latest move, the CCCs said they had consulted the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) before finalising the list of 17 projects. These include covered walkways, barrier-free access and fitness corners.

Asked how many of the 17 were AHPETC's ideas, Mr Sim Wai Chin, chairman of Eunos CCC, said it had "exclusively suggested" six. Eunos is a ward in Aljunied GRC.

Yesterday, Ms Lim said AHPETC vice-chairman Pritam Singh, the MP for Eunos ward, had been liaising with PA grassroots in his ward since 2012 on possible CIPC projects.

Late last year, CCC representatives gave the town council a list of their proposals as AHPETC "needed to confirm that the projects were feasible for TC to maintain and would not become a financial burden to the TC in the future", she added.

AHPETC gave the CCC its own project list.

Mr Sim said AHPETC proposed 52 of the 90 projects the CCCs collated.

To whittle down the list, the CCCs focused on providing new facilities, with an eye on the cost of building and maintenance and benefit to residents.

They did not support proposals that "verged on maintenance in nature", such as upgrading existing bicycle racks and providing block number signs.

Of the final 17, nine are in Aljunied GRC, five in Punggol East and three in Hougang, he said.

The possible injection of CIPC funds follows national upgrading schemes announced in WP wards since the 2011 General Election.

Asked if the CIPC move marks a shift in PAP strategy, Mr Ong Ye Kung, a former PAP candidate and grassroots adviser for Aljunied GRC, said: "As community volunteers, the grassroots leaders did what makes most sense for the benefit of residents. That should be the priority."

Grassroots groups plan upgrades in WP wards
The Straits Times, 21 Jan 2014

GRASSROOTS organisations in Aljunied GRC, Hougang and Punggol East are planning to submit 17 upgrading projects to the Ministry of National Development (MND) for approval.

The projects, to be paid for by Community Improvement Projects Committee (CIPC) funds, include covered walkways, barrier-free access and fitness corners.

The Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs) of the three Workers' Party-held constituencies said yesterday that in drawing up the list of 17 projects, they consulted opposition-run Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

The CIPC funds have long been a sticking point in opposition wards as they are given to town councils through the CCCs, which are grassroots bodies under the People's Association.

The division's grassroots adviser, usually the PAP candidate, has to apply for the grant. Opposition MPs have said in the past that their applications to use the funds have been rebuffed.

The CCCs said they will be calling a public tender for an implementing agent to study the proposed projects and put up detailed submissions to MND's CIPC.

The CCCs received 90 proposed projects after consulting residents, and "also consulted the AHPETC, which also proposed a list of projects". The statement did not say whether AHPETC's proposals were included in the final list of 17.

It also did not state how much the projects would cost. But according to financial statements of the Aljunied Town Council under the PAP, the council received grants from the CCC of some $1.65 million in the financial year 2010/2011 and $909,000 in the financial year before that.

Yesterday's statement included a quote from Mr Ong Ye Kung, adviser to Kaki Bukit CCC and a PAP candidate for Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election, on shortlisting projects that would tangibly benefit residents.

Eunos CCC chairman Sim Wai Chin said that grassroots leaders work closely with residents to collate feedback on useful facilities to improve their daily life.


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