Speaker Nasheed comes out in defense of govt. amid corruption allegations

Former President and current Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. (Photo/President's Office0

Speaker of the Maldivian parliament Mohamed Nasheed has come out in defense of the government after allegations of corruption and misconduct against the state were levied by opposition figures. 

Two separate audit reports by the Auditor General’s Office into expenditure by the Tourism Ministry and Health Ministry during the COVID-19 crisis had shown multiple instances of misconduct and even possible acts of corruption. The reports had led to allegations of corruption and misuse of state funds against state officials.

Opposition PPM and PNC have been on the frontline of directing these allegations. Opposition leading figure and former MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla said last night that the failure of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was evident due to the lack of arrests in connection with the scandals identified from both ministries days ago. 

“It is being disclosed that President Solih’s administration is not limited to the sale of anything. Islands, land, seas, lagoons, all are being sold. The public is on auction. The public is having to pay the price for Solih’s failure to run the government. The sadness has no end.” Said Abdul Raheem.

Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed then came out in defense of the government with a tweet today. He said that President Solih’s administration was making way for the majority MDP parliament to identify faults and correct them.

“In President Yameen’s administration, the MNDF entered the parliament,” said Nasheed. 

What is in the audit reports?

The compliance audit report on the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 related spending states there is reason to believe the procurement of ventilators from overseas involves fraud, misuse of state funds, violation of public accounts regulations, and misconduct by state officials as well as possible acts of corruption.

Health Ministry had contracted the import of ventilators – part of efforts to improve the capacity of Maldives’ health system to treat COVID-19 patients who require intensive care - to three private companies; Medtech Maldives, Naadu Private Limited, and Dubai-based Executors General Trading LLC.

While Health Minister Abdulla Ameen and officials from National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) previously stated that the Executors General Trading was contracted to supply 75 ventilators at the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Auditor General’s Office found the company had not been recommended by the organization.

Health Minister Abdulla Ameen at a National Emergency Operations Center press briefing on April 6, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The audit uncovered that 11 ventilators which were supplied by Executors General Trading were not the brand of ventilators they had been contracted to procure, and did not meet the requirements. Executors General Trading was also contracted to procure the ventilators at a higher price than other suppliers.

Health Ministry also did not obtain a performance guarantee, or an advance payment guarantee when it paid MVR 30 million (90 percent of the total payment) as an advance to the company.

These are some of the issues noted in the report specified to the contract and dealings with the Dubai based company. Issues in dealings with the remaining two companies were also noted in the report.

Meanwhile, the compliance audit report on Tourism Ministry’s COVID-19 related spending was released on August 13, and also uncovered multiple issues, including that 99 percent of the MVR 26 million in COVID-19 spending by the Tourism Ministry was on areas outside of its mandate, among other instances of misconduct.