Former Home Minister Hassan Afeef has said he cannot be held answerable for the MVR 1 million (US$66,943) spent in excess of the Home Ministry’s budget in 2011.
The 2011 audit report for the ministry revealed that MVR 1,030,934 was spent in addition to its allocated budget while Afeef was Home Minister.
The auditor general’s report further states that the ministry initiated a number of projects without any announcement – a violation of the Public Finance Regulation, according to local media.
Afeef claimed that while he held his post in 2011 he had no involvement in the ministry’s spending, adding he was “not supposed to be aware” of the matter.
“I was not in charge of the finances, for that we had a financial controller. It is under the finance act that each individual ministry has one, and they deal with the expenditure.
“I cannot be answerable to those things because [the financial controller] has the responsibility for spending the Ministry’s budget,” Afeef told Minivan News.
Asked if he was aware that the ministry had gone over its budget at the time, Afeef added: “I am not supposed to be aware. If there was something I should be aware of, they would make me aware of it.”
The Home Ministry audit report revealed that MVR 86,329 (US$5,605) was spent on the preparation of Dharubaaruge convention centre in Male’, while MVR 75,000 (US$4,870) was spent for a music and boduberu program and MVR 36,225 (US$2,352) allocated towards a sound system for a presidential speech.
The decisions, according to local media, were all made without prior announcement to find a suitable party.
Furthermore, MVR 12,548 (US$814) was spent by the Home Ministry in 2011 to host a Ramadan breakfast for its employees, without authorisation from the Finance Ministry.
Speaking about the expenditures, Afeef stated that there were certain factors that had not been taken into consideration in the budget, adding “if the budget is not enough, they have to spend the money to fund the extra costs.”
The report noted that MVR 64,000 (US$4,155) was spent on ‘attire allowance’ for employees for national day and independence day celebrations.
The audit report also highlighted further discrepancies in expenditures made from the Department of Immigration and Emigration – which at the time functioned under the Home Ministry.
The Controller of Immigration was awarded MVR 26,729 (US$1,735) for his phone bill, while 10 employees from the department were given MVR 48,032 (US$3,118) in excess of their salary. Meanwhile, three employees at the department received MVR 2,392 (US$155) less than their agreed salary, according to local media.
Issues raised in the report on the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DRPS) show that MVR 617,257 (US$40,081) had been used in contradiction to the shift-duty guidelines declared by the Civil Service Commission.
MVR 56,123 (US$3,644) was awarded to employees in excess of their salary, while MVR 3,473 (US$225) was withheld from two employees who were owed the amount.
Furthermore, contraband confiscated from inmates was not properly recorded. MVR 8,691 (US$564) was also taken from the DPRS safe and left unaccounted.
The auditor general advised that proper action be taken against parties who had violated the regulation.
Investigation into failure to recover misappropriated funds
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee announced on Monday (February 25) that it intended to investigate the failure by authorities to recover misappropriated funds in previous audit reports.
In the meeting held on Monday, Committee Chairperson MP Ahmed Nazim revealed that the committee intended to send a letter to Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor regarding the failure to recover the money.
Majlis Finance Committee member MP Ahmed Hamza told Minivan News that the Public Accounts Committee was still going through the reports and was unable to give an estimate as to how much money is still owed as a result of the misuse of state funds.
The finance committee member said that there were two issues in regard to the failure of recovering misused funds.
“If the government incurs a loss due to the misappropriation of funds, rather than recover the money, the guilty party faces criminal punishment instead.
“Secondly, it is a case of certain members finding it not possible to recover the funds that have been misused,” Hamza added.
When asked whether there had been any effort to recover the money in the past, Hamza stressed that some had been returned, but he was unable to give a rough figure as to how much.
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Visam Ali was reported by local media as saying that government offices do not correct issues relating to how funds are managed, even after repeatedly being advised to do so in audit reports.