State institutions blame Finance Ministry for unpaid electricity bills

Senior officials of state institutions summoned to parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on Tuesday night blamed the Finance Ministry for unpaid electricity bills to the State Electricity Company (STELCO).

STELCO Chief Technical Officer Dr Mohamed Zaid told the committee that local councils informed STELCO that funds allocated in their annual budgets were only enough to pay electricity bills for two or three months.

Zaid said discussions with the government have been ongoing since STELCO’s board made a decision to disconnect electricity from state institutions with large overdue bills.

The company was owed MVR 174 million (US$11.3 million) from various state institutions, he said.

While 78 percent of STELCO’s expenditure was on diesel, Dr Zaid revealed that the company owed MVR 132 million (US$8.6 million) for oil purchased on credit, including MVR 34 million (US$2.2 million) for oil bills currently overdue.

Among the institutions with the largest outstanding bills, the Male’ Health Corporation (MHC), which operates the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), owes STELCO MVR 31 million (US$2 million) for 20 months of unpaid bills while the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) owes MVR 7.1 million (US$460,000) for the past five months.

Speaking at the committee, Male’ City Councillor Aimon Ismail said the Finance Ministry did not provide MVR 6.74 million (US$437,094) requested by the council for electricity costs in 2012. The Male’ City Council is responsible for paying electricity bills for mosques, public parks and street lights in the capital.

Meanwhile, newspaper Haveeru reported yesterday (Wednesday) that parliament’s Finance Committee decided to give the Finance Ministry a week to settle MBC’s outstanding bills in addition to asking the Auditor General’s Office to conduct a special performance audit of the state broadcaster.