Case alleging corruption in parliament’s chamber automation project forwarded to ACC

A case submitted by the Auditor General alleging corruption in the Parliament Chamber Automation Project has been forwarded to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The audit report of the parliament for 2010 highlighted issues with the MVR 2.1 million (US$136,000) project to install touch screens on every desk inside the parliament chamber.

The case was forwarded to the ACC by parliament after Speaker Abdulla Shahid had informed the parliament secretariat to comply with the request of the Auditor General, a statement by parliament revealed.

The audit report alleges that sufficient assessment was not carried out for the project, despite it being required to have gone through the tender evaluation board.

This resulted in the company awarded the contract to allegedly reap excessive profits due to the oversight.

The project was installed to facilitate viewing documents and to create an almost ‘paperless environment’.

The audit report noted that the project was awarded to a Maldivian company for MVR 1.3 million (US$84,300) on March 25 2010.

Despite being given 37 days to complete the project, the company took a total of 81 days, costing an additional MVR 720,425 (US$46,720) to complete the work.

The report added that additional funds had to be spent on the project because the software requested by the Parliament Secretariat turned out to be incompatible with the hardware used in parliament.

The software, called Thin Client, also turned out to be incompatible with the touch screens and touch keyboards used in the project.

Despite MVR 24,000 (US$1550) being spent on obtaining expert advice, the consultant was not held responsible for the additional money spend on the project.

The mistake led to the 100 Thin Client touch pads being removed and replaced by Nettops.

A company was awarded MVR 830,000 (US$53,617) to provide Nettops after winning a bid to supply the hardware.

MVR 1.3 million (US$84,300) was then paid to the new company for the installation of six servers, eight server switches and 100 touch screens.

The audit report noted that the parliament secretariat had conferred undue advantage to the contractor.

The secretariat did not deduct liquidated damages following the contractor failing to complete the project before the agreed deadline, as required by the Finance Act.

It was instead stated in the contract that the secretariat can decide whether to deduct liquidated damages or not.

Several opinions were included in the report indicating that the project was undertaken without proper studies, and in a manner that was not beneficial to the parliament.

Despite one aim of the project being to create a ‘paperless environment’, the report noted that parliament expenditure on photocopying and toner cartridges had not gone down.