Elections Commission (EC) Chair Fuad Thaufeeq has disputed the Auditor General’s Office’s contention in the commission’s audit report for 2012 that recommendations in previous audit reports have not been implemented.
Fuad Thaufeeq told local media yesterday (June 30) that efforts were made to follow through on the recommendations, including the recovery of mobile phones provided to staff and clearing up issues involving funds sent to the atolls dating back from before the EC was set up as an independent institution under the new constitution.
In the case of mobile phones, Fuad said, the commission has either recovered the phones or received compensation from staff, including former Elections Commissioner ‘Kaaf Dhaal’ Ahmed Manik.
Staff responsible for lost laptops have also been told to settle the cost of the lost items in two years, he added.
With regard to MVR50,438 (US$3,270) of additional expenditure on overseas trips by commission members incurred as a result of extending the duration of stays, Fuad said the EC was unable to determine which members or which overseas trips the Auditor General was referring to and had asked for clarification.
On awarding a contract worth MVR 4.9 million (US$317,769) to a local company to print ballot papers without going through the tender evaluation board, Fuad explained that there was no time after candidates had applied to “send it to the Finance [Ministry’s] bid committee for a decision.”
Fuad told newspaper Haveeru that it was “regrettable” that the audit report did not acknowledge the corrective measures taken by the commission.
“We cannot correct what is unclear to us. That is why I am saying there are illegitimate claims in this report. I will prove that anywhere I have to,” he was quoted as saying.
Fuad contended that such reports should not raise unwarranted doubts among the public concerning the commission’s integrity.
While the 2011 audit report had flagged 20 cases of ostensible violations of public finance laws, the 2012 report highlighted two cases and stated that the commission’s expenditures were for the most part in line with the public finance law and regulations and the budget approved by parliament.
Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim however dismissed the claims and insisting that all the information presented in the report was valid.
He however observed that government ministries and independent institutions were “slowly coming round to accepting what is in these reports.”
“These things will happen in the early days. But it will get better,” he was quoted as saying.