Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has claimed that a delay in clearing debts owed to various utility providers by Male’ City Council (MCC) is the result of a “cash flow” issue facing his department.
On Saturday (December 22), the MCC revealed that it owed an outstanding electricity bill of MVR 3.9 million (US$ 254,569) to the State Electricity Company Limited (STELCO).
A further MVR 400,000 (US$ 26,109) is also owed by the MCC to telecommunication service provider Dhiraagu, who earlier this week disconnected all telephone and internet services in the council’s offices.
Finance Minister Jihad yesterday (December 24) blamed “cash flow” issues for his ministry’s failure to clear the MMC’s debts.
“We are in the process of relieving the funds, however we have had some cash flow issues and that is why there has been a delay in the clearing the MCC’s debt.
“We are working to clear the debt in the next couple of days,” Jihad told Minivan News.
Asked yesterday whether the government lacked the money to repay the bills, Jihad replied: “The government has to manage the cash flow, they make the payments. There is a cash flow issue.”
MCC Mayor ‘Maizan’ Ali Manik Manik previously claimed that the outstanding payment owed to STELCO by the MCC threatens to leave all council owned properties and utilities – including street lights – without power.
Speaking to Minivan News today (December 25) Manik said that he had personally told members of the Finance Ministry to make a “settlement” with all the utility companies that are currently owed money.
“I told the ministry that if they don’t have the cash flow to pay these debts, then they should speak to Dhiraagu and STELCO and make a settlement,” he said.
“Even if it means saying that they will be paid in a month’s time, even a year’s time, anything is better than the current situation. I have a feeling we are going to be in darkness after December 27.”
Mayor Manik has previously told Minivan News on December 22 that MMC had filed all necessary documents and paper work with the finance ministry in order for the outstanding bills to be paid.
He claimed that having spoken to Jihad about the issue at the time, the finance minister had assured him that both the STELCO and Dhiraagu bills would be paid by his ministry on December 23.
However, STELCO Media Co-ordinator Abdulla Nazir revealed that as of December 23, no money had been deposited by the finance ministry.
On Thursday (December 20), local media reported that Dhiraagu had disconnected all phone and internet services it provided to the MCC due to unpaid bills.
MCC member Ibrahim Shajau claimed that over MVR 400,000 (US$ 26,109) is owed by the council to Dhiraagu, alleging that the Finance Ministry had failed to release the funds.
“We have sent all relevant documents to Finance Ministry. It’s up to [them] to pay the money. Dhiraagu said that Finance Ministry had not paid the money,” he told Sun Online.
Dhiraagu Marketing and PR Ibrahim Imjad Jaleel told local media that the services were disconnected after advising the council on numerous occasions to pay their bills.
“We disconnected the services today after giving them time even today to pay the bills after the offices opened. We had to cut off our services after their failure to pay any amount after several days of discussions. We are trying with our customer even now, to find a way to resume the services,” he said.
Meanwhile, STELCO Media Coordinator Abdulla Nazir revealed that MCC had a “long history” of outstanding payments, adding that the stated figure of MVR 3.9 million was only part of the overall debt owed to the company.
“STELCO has received no money so far. There are many months of outstanding debt from MCC, more than the MVR 3.9 million we have asked for,” Nazir said. “While we have received no statement or payment from the Finance Ministry, we have received a letter from MCC dated December 19. They said their bills have been sent to the Finance Ministry, and they have asked the ministry to settle the outstanding payments.”