MP Gerald Giam

 Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance with regard to the Ministry’s review on COVID-19 pandemic-related procurement and expenditure (a) what is the total value of expenditure made (i) without quotation estimates and (ii) with single quotations respectively; and (b) for each of these categories, what is the total amount made to related parties.

The Senior Minister of State for Finance (Mr Chee Hong Tat) (for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance): Speaker, from January 2020 to July 2022, agencies adopted Emergency Procurement procedures to directly contract with suppliers instead of going through open sourcing. I hope the Member understands why such an arrangement was necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the Government to respond swiftly to the crisis.

Of the $72.3 billion COVID-19 pandemic-related spending, about 90% was not for procurement of goods and services, but to provide support for families, workers and businesses. Of the $8 billion of procurement, none were made without a quote, and about $1.1 billion was made with a single quote, for the purchase of testing and swabbing services, as well as food and medical supplies.

 For those procurement contracts that were entered into with single quotes, no procurement was made to related parties, which refers to companies that are directly owned by the Ministries or Statutory Boards.

 Government agencies are expected to ensure proper and impartial evaluation is done and seek the necessary approvals for all procurement, including those done under Emergency Procurement procedures. All procurement transactions are further subjected to independent checks by agencies’ internal audit teams and the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO).

Mr Speaker: Mr Giam.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): I thank the Senior Minister of State for his reply. Does the total COVID-19 spending of $72.3 billion include the amounts spent by Temasek Holdings, Temasek Foundation and other Temasek-linked companies for their COVID-19 activities?

Secondly, the scope of the review requested by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) only covers whether the transactions were bona fide and that there were no erroneous payments. Will MOF and AGO also be reviewing potential wastage in the procurement process and ascertaining whether the value-for-money procurement approach was adhered to in all instances?

Mr Chee Hong Tat: Sir, the first question from Mr Giam, yes, there were contracts that were awarded to Temasek-linked companies. I think some of these were also previously discussed in this House.

The second question on whether the audits would cover not just to make sure that the transactions were done in accordance with proper procedures – I think that was what the Member was saying – but also to ensure value-for-money, yes, I think the audits, both the AGO’s and also the internal audits, will look to cover both areas. [Please refer to “Clarification by Senior Minister of State for Finance”, Official Report, 1 March 2023, Vol 95, Issue 89, Clarification section.]

Mr Speaker: Mr Giam.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: Sorry, on the first question, I just want to clarify. What I was asking for is not the contracts that were awarded to Temasek-linked companies, but the expenses incurred by Temasek in terms of giving out the face masks and various oximeters and all that. Was that part of the $72.3 billion or was that something that Temasek incurred on their own?

Mr Chee Hong Tat: Sir, I think we were talking about Government spending. So, what I cited earlier in terms of the $72.3 billion, I mentioned in my reply that the bulk of it, 90%, was not meant for procurement, but as support – job support scheme, the COVID-19 relief grants and so on and so forth – that we give to families, workers and businesses.

The $8 billion – I have given Mr Giam a breakdown of which are single quotes. This is Government expenditure, this is from the Government. 

If I turn to what is, I think, Mr Giam’s larger question, is whether you think that Temasek companies should be included in this overall Government expenditure? No? Okay. Thank you.

Ministry of Finance
1 March 2023

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