Housing Minister appointed as interim Health Minister

Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The Minister for National Planning, Housing & Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam has been appointed to run the Ministry of Health on an interim basis, due to Health Minister Abdulla Ameen stepping aside from duties.

Health Minister Ameen stepped aside pending the outcome of an investigation after multiple instances of corruption and misconduct by the Health Ministry in the procurement of ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the Maldives surfaced in an audit report of the Auditor General’s Office. The President’s Office has now ordered an investigation into the findings of the audit report.

President’s Office confirmed that Minister Aslam will be taking over the duties of Minister Ameen. The President has pledged to take action against any individual responsible or found of involvement in the misconduct.

Calls for the dismissal of Minister Ameen has also been on the rise.

What was in the audit report?

Health Ministry awarded contracts to three companies to source ventilators to the Maldives They are Medtech, Naadu Pvt Ltd, and a Dubai based company named Executors General Trading.

The agreement with Executors General Trading saw the Ministry award the contract under the pretext that the WHO recommended the company for the work. Minister Ameen himself has stated in press conferences that the WHO had recommended the company. The Ministry even sent letters to the parliament stating so. 

This was, however, refuted by the WHO, which stated that it had not provided an official list of recommended suppliers and that it had no contact with Executors General Trading as well. 

The company was awarded to source 75 ventilators however, authorities have only received 11 ventilators so far. The received ventilators are of different brands from the ones requested and have a number of important features missing. Health Ministry is also accused of ignoring the public account regulations in the dealings. The contract with Executors General Trading also saw them awarded contracts of higher prices compared with other companies. 

Misconduct was also identified from the contracts with Medtech and Naadu Pvt Ltd.