Public Accounts Committee to question Health Minister, Bid Committee on Monday

Health Minister Abdulla Ameen during a press conference on March 8, 2020. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Saeed)

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has made the decision to summon Health Minister Abdulla Ameen and members of Health Ministry’s Bid Committee for questioning regarding the issues uncovered in a compliance audit on Health Ministry’s COVID-19 related spending.

The Auditor General’s Office released its compliance audit report on Health Ministry’s COVID-19 related spending on August 16. It uncovered multiple breaches of public finance regulations, most of which is connected to the MVR 34.5 million contract awarded to Dubai-based Executors General Trading for the supply of 75 ventilators.

The audit revealed that Executors General Trading was not awarded the contract at the recommendation of World Health Organization (WHO) as was previously claimed by government officials, and that the Health Ministry did not secure a performance guarantee from the company, or an advance guarantee when it paid MVR 30.9 million (90 percent of the total payment) as an advance.

The company delivered only 11 ventilators, which were not the agreed brand, and did not pass functionality assessments. They were rejected by the Health Ministry.

The Public Accounts Committee has initiated an inquiry into the issues uncovered in the audit.

Public Accounts Committee’s chair, Kinbidhoo MP Mohamed Nashiz told Sun the officials have been summoned for a meeting at 11:00 am on Monday.

Auditor General Hassan Ziyath along with other senior officials from his office were summoned to the Public Accounts Committee last week.

In response to questions, Ziyath said he believes the greatest negligence in the ventilator contract to be from Health Ministry’s Finance Executive Ahmed Aslam and the members of the Bid Committee.

Meanwhile, Auditor General's Office Director Ibrahim Fazeel said that an initial attempt was made to transfer the advance payment to Executors General Trading to a personal bank account

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has ordered the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Maldives Police Service to conduct a joint investigation into the audit findings.

Ameen has stepped aside from his duties as Health Minister pending the outcome of the investigation, while the Health Ministry's Finance Executive and members of the bid committee have been placed under suspension.