Ameer: 72 percent of COVID-19 spending done through STO

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer at a press conference on April 1, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, on Saturday, said the government had spent MVR 814 million on curbing the spread of COVID-19 to date, and that 72 percent of the spending (MVR 586 million) had been done through State Trading Organization (STO).

At a National Emergency Operations Center press briefing on Saturday afternoon, Ameer said that the heaviest spending by STO was on procurement of medical consumables and capital equipment.

He said that approximately 86 percent of all medical consumables were procured through STO.

Ameer said that the government had also signed with the STO for the Disaster Management Trust Fund, under which the organization had been granted MVR 84 million to maintain a buffer stock of staple food.

“We are looking to get this done at the lowest cost possible,” he said.

Ameer also said that the government was also assisting STO secure an International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) credit facility by granting a sovereign guarantee.

He also announced that given the bulk of the COVID-19 spending was being done through STO; the Finance Ministry had requested the Auditor General’s Office for the State Internal Audit Committee to conduct a special audit into the transactions. Finance Ministry has also asked the Privatization and Corporatization Board (PCB) to oversee the internal audit conducted by STO into the transactions in order to verify the process.

The State Internal Audit Committee has also initiated audits into COVID-19 spending by the Health Ministry, Defense Ministry, Immigration, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Maldives Police Service, Tourism Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Planning Ministry, and Gender Ministry.