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Response to Audit Observations on the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore: Report of the Auditor-General for FY 2018/2019

1. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) takes the findings of the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) seriously and acknowledges the lapses observed, primarily in areas of procurement, management of IT rights, and instances where Haj administration fees relating to deceased applicants were not refunded in a timely manner.

Procurement

2. Having reviewed AGO’s observations on procurement, Muis has found no evidence of fraud. The lapses were due to human error and procedural weaknesses. Muis acknowledges these lapses, and immediate steps have been taken to address the gaps and ensure alignment with government best practices.

3. Muis has been progressively building up its capabilities in governance and procurement over the past few years. This includes strengthening training in governance and finance for officers. More resources have been deployed to procurement and IT related functions, to ensure compliance with government financial procedures. Muis also conducts regular internal audits to identify areas for improvement in our internal controls.

Management of IT rights

4. The issues raised by AGO on the management of IT rights were due to the limitations of our legacy IT systems. These have been addressed with the implementation of new IT systems in January 2019 with capabilities that address the shortcomings of previous systems. This is part of Muis’ continual efforts to refresh our IT systems and harness technology to improve governance and serve citizens better, such as digitalising zakat payments through the new iPARS system, and leveraging the LicenceOne platform to expedite halal certification applications.

Refund of Haj Administrative Fees

5. Muis has taken steps over the years to improve processes for the refund of Haj administrative fees to the estate of deceased applicants. Out of the 226 cases raised by AGO, 181 cases (80%) have received their refunds, or are in the process of being refunded. For the remaining 45 cases, the families of the deceased were uncontactable. Details of these cases have been uploaded on the unclaimed monies website (www.unclaimedmonies.gov.sg). Muis will further review our systems and processes to ensure more timely refunds for applicants who have passed on.

Continuing Actions

6. In addition to immediate remedial actions, Muis has established a taskforce, chaired by Muis Chief Executive, that will review and monitor the timely implementation of measures to address the findings of the audit. We seek the support of our Muslim community as we improve our services and processes.

 

MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA