Audit: MVR 1.4M missing from funds to PSM for Islamic TV channel

(From LR) Then Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Ziyad Bagir, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Managing Director of PSM, Ibrahim Khaleel at inauguration of Islamic TV Channel on December 29, 2016. (File Photo/President's Office)

An audit done on Ministry of Islamic Affairs has uncovered MVR 1.4 million missing from MVR 7.9 million issued to Public Service Media to purchase equipment for an Islamic TV channel – a collaboration between Ministry of Islamic Affairs and PSM.

The audit report of Ministry of Islamic Affairs 2017 notes PSM and Ministry of Islamic Affairs signed an agreement to launch a new channel, an Islamic TV channel in November, 2016. The channel was never launched, but the name of one of the television channels of PSM was changed to Munnaaru, and broadcasting launched during the period.

The report notes that the agreement does not contain details on sharing expenses, but does contain details on sharing income.

Paperwork shows PSM submitted a quotation to purchase 51 pieces of equipment “to launch the new channel” worth total MVR 7.9 million for the Islamic TV Channel, and that the Ministry of Islamic Affairs issued MVR 7.9 million for the quotation.

Only 15 of the pieces of equipment in the quotation was purchased by November, 2017.

The report notes the quotation likely lists equipment more than it needs at PSM merely changed the name of one of its existing channels and did not launch a completely new channel.

PSM spent only 1.6 million to purchase the 15 pieces of equipment, and therefore should have the remaining MVR 6.2 million from the MVR 7.9 issued to the company, noted the audit report.

However, the account to which the MVR 7.9 million was transferred to had only MVR 4.8 million by October, 2018, with MVR 1.4 million missing.

“It is therefore likely the money issued to purchase equipment for the Islamic TV channel was misused by PSM for other purposes. With this being the fact, the ministry has not made sufficient effort to trace how the money issued to PSM was used,” reads the report.

 The audit also noted the money to purchase the equipment originated from the Zakat Fund, from where the money was transferred to Vaguf Fund – used to finance projects to promote Islam.

And the failure to prepare and maintain registries of the separate assets of PSM and Ministry of Islamic Affairs to form the Islamic TV channel as per the agreement.

In light of the findings, the Auditor General has instructed both parties to honor its agreement to form the Islamic TV channel, and ascertain the funds issued to PSM to run the Islamic TV channel is used solely to purchase equipment in the quotation submitted by PSM to broadcast via Munnaaru TV Channel.