Tsk Tsk...Feb 8, 2006
CPF Board's $7.4m Payment lapse
Failure to pay insurance claims to dependants of 216 dead members is part of findings stated in annual report on govt agencies' accounts
By Daryl Loo
IN ONE of the most glaring lapses spotted at a government agency, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board failed to pay $7.4 million in insurance claims to the dependants of 216 members who died.
The board explained that the error arose because a wrong method was used to identify whether a dead member's insurance policies, under the Dependants' Protection and Home Protection schemes, were still valid.
As a result, it had used the date of the report of the death rather than the actual date of death to verify the validity of the policies.
Hence, it took more than two years before the families of 108 deceased members were compensated, with 43 of them having to wait more than eight years.
In 15 of the unpaid claims, the policies of dead members were automatically renewed and premiums deducted from their CPF accounts even after their deaths.
The CPF has since compensated all the families except two involving deaths overseas.
Its lapses were disclosed yesterday in the annual report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), comprising nine MPs led by Mr Leong Horn Kee.
The committee inquired into 46 observations made in the Auditor-General's report on government accounts for the financial year ended March 2005.
The PAC also rapped the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for its persistent delays in processing Workmen's Compensation payments to injured workers and, in fatal cases, to their families.
It was not the first time the committee had raised the issue. Its 2004 report had noted the problem, but the latest Auditor-General's report showed that cases of late payments had risen during the period under review.
The MOM blamed the delays on 'the ulterior motive of foreign workers', saying they delay the claims process by objecting to their compensation assessments to prolong their stays in Singapore. But it also promised to clear its backlog of compensation cases by June, and to clear new cases much faster.
The committee also took the MOM to task for taking 3 1/2 years to pay financial aid of $37,000 from the Workers' Fund to the family of a man who died in February 2001.
The breadwinner's wife and three young children were paid only in July 2004.
The MOM blamed the CPF Board for misplacing its request for information for eight months, but admitted it had no reason for long delays as there were only five cases involving the Workers' Fund in the last five years.
The committee also raised concerns with governance issues at three agencies: the Singapore Totalisator Board, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).
Of particular concern was the Tote Board - which oversees gambling operations like horse racing and Toto through the Turf Club and Singapore Pools - as it manages 'large sums of public money'.
The Finance Ministry promised more rigorous internal controls, including forming an audit committee and stricter adherence to rules of disclosure of interests. The Tote Board will also no longer accept gifts of corporate country club memberships from beneficiaries of its donations.
The MAS was queried over deviations in payment of overseas allowances and benefits to staff, while GIC lapsed in updating computer access rights of 15 officers who no longer needed access. Both agencies have undertaken to rectify the lapses and prevent recurrences.
The PAC was also concerned that the HDB was building more carparks than necessary and incurring large deficits in its carpark operations. It noted HDB had built carparks for 547,739 cars, nearly double the 276,078 cars that HDB residents own.
The HDB explained that its carpark deficit - $64.6 million for its financial year ended March 2004 - was mainly due to land depreciation and interest payments.
Aiyo! Why like tat one huh?!? Ask us to buy insurance then when we die can drag until 8 years then pay $! Like tat how can!
Maybe that Dr Chee is right when he called for the transparency and accountability in CPF…
But the worst is still the MOM la. Walau people’s husband die in work accident can drag until 3.5 years then pay the financial aids! Some more that guy still got 3 kids leh, the wife is so poor things man.
5 years only got 5 cases also cannot do properly. Sometime really dunno what they doing…
Dr Ng ah, Dr Ng… If you really got so much time to think about other people’s “time bombs”, maybe u should just spend more time and effort in managing on your own backyard. Dun let families of injured and killed workers wait so long what…