Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef, on Wednesday, said the introduction of the ‘Husnuvaa Aasandha’ health insurance scheme had given birth to a medical mafia in Maldives.
Shareef is a prominent Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentarian who serves as the chair of the National Security and Foreign Relations Committee and as a member of the Public Accounts Committee.
At the virtual parliamentary sitting on Wednesday, Shareef said the government spent a large amount of money on Aasandha and medical supplies. He said the government needed to reduce its expenses as much as possible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
“And since the introduction of Husnuva Aasandha, Maldives now has a medical mafia,” said Shareef.
Shareef alleged that the key players involved were major State-owned enterprises, and said the government needed to revise its procurement policies in order to stamp out corruption.
“Therefore, I propose that the government establish an organization to centralize all its procurement needs and reduce chances of corruption, and to make arrangements to procure the necessary items directly from manufacturers,” he said.
Shareef said establishing such an organization would reduce chances for corruption considerably, and that failure to address the issue would only worsen the situation.
“Therefore, expenses need to be reduced. And corruption needs to be eliminated. Aasandha needs to be a sustainable organization,” he said.
State Trading Organization (STO) is the main importer of medical equipment and consumables required by the main State hospital IGMH and regional hospitals. STO had been recently hit with allegations it procures most of its medical equipment and consumables through a third party - and that the selection of a third party involved elements of corruption.
STO denies the allegation.
STO spokesperson Abdulla Mohamed told Sun on Wednesday that the company procured medical equipment and consumables available from manufactures directly from them, and procured medical equipment and consumables which aren’t directly available from manufactures through authorized dealers. He said that decisions in situations which required employing authorized dealers were cost-based.
The government has so far spent MVR 814 million curbing the spread of COVID-19. Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer recently announced that that 72 percent of the spending (MVR 586 million) had been done STO.