Auditor General questions legitimacy of telco license fees

The Communication Authority of Maldives (CAM) did not examine annual financial statements of telecommunication companies before collecting license fees, the audit report of the former Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication for 2009 has revealed.

The audit report (Dhivehi) made public this week noted that CAM was authorised under its agreement with telcos to check and review financial statements of the companies at any time.

However, there was no documentation showing that financial statements were scrutinised by CAM in order to calculate the license fees, the audit found.

“Therefore, we note that it cannot be verified whether the amount of money paid by telecommunication companies to the state as license fees was in truth the full amount owed by the parties,” the report stated.

Based on the findings, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim recommended that CAM check audited financial statements of the companies at the end of the financial year to ensure that the license fees were paid in full.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication was later renamed Ministry of Transport and Communication. In addition to CAM, the Department of Civil Aviation and the National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT) also operated under the ministry.

Among three other cases flagged in the audit report was the absence of overtime work sheets for employees at the NCIT.

While MVR106,702 (US$6,920) was spent in 2009 for overtime pay with written authorisation from senior officials, “we note that due to the lack of records at the office for employees’ overtime work (overtime work sheet) the actual overtime work and time spent could not be verified,” the report stated.

As a result, the report added, auditors could not guarantee the legitimacy of the overtime pay in 2009.

The auditor general recommended ensuring proper maintenance of records and taking action against responsible officials in line with public finance regulations.

The audit also discovered that the ministry attempted to pay a contractor MVR68,000 (US$4,410) to set up a biometric attendance system before the installation work was complete.

While the agreement was signed on December 31, 2009, to complete installation within 30 days, the audit report noted that the contractor billed the ministry on the same day, which then submitted an expense voucher to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.

“However, we note that there were no documents at the ministry to guarantee that the work was complete before the contractor billed the ministry. Therefore, we believe that the ministry attempted to pay the contractor before the work was completed,” the report stated.

Moreover, there were no records at the ministry of estimates submitted by three interested parties, the report noted, and the evaluation committee chose the contractor with the lowest point score.

While minutes of the evaluation committee’s meetings showed that two proposals were disregarded due to lack of technical specifications, auditors found that the required technical specifications were included in one of the disqualified bids.

The auditor general recommended taking action against the official responsible for submitting the expense voucher to the Finance Ministry without confirming completion of the outsourced task.

Additionally, the audit office recommended an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission into the awarding of the contract by the evaluation committee.

In the third case highlighted in the report, auditors found that the ministry was not reimbursed the MVR23,927 (US$1,552) spent on a plane ticket for the minister to attend a ministerial  meeting of the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) in Bali, Indonesia.

As travel and other expenses for the trip were to be covered by the APT, the auditor general recommended recovering the money.

Aside from the flagged cases of ostensible violations of public finance law, the audit report concluded that financial transactions of the ministry and the institutions operating under its remit was in compliance with the Public Finance Act and regulations under the law.


One thought on “Auditor General questions legitimacy of telco license fees”

  1. These are corrupt quangosm which is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation (quango or qango)

    Dhiraagu constructs expensive buildings and many shops in Male - money milked from expensive telephone rates, while service is so poor.



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