President’s Office spent in spent MVR 7,415,960 (US$480,931) over the parliament approved budget for the office in 2010, according to the auditor general’s office.
The audit report, released on Thursday, focused on the expenses of the President’s Office and the residences of the President and the Vice President.
The report spells out explicitly 12 instances in which the Auditor General believes the President’s Office acted in breach of laws and regulations.
In addition to the excess expenditure of MVR 7 million, the report also highlights then-President Mohamed Nasheed’s chartering of an Island Aviation flight from Colombo to Male’ on November 19, 2010. This had cost MVR 146,490 (US$9500) for the charter itself, together with the ground handling fee of MVR 3,097 (US$ 201) paid to Sri Lankan Airlines, and fuel charges of MVR 11,925 (US$773) paid to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
The audit report states that while all these were paid from state funds, no records were available to prove that Nasheed booked this flight for official purposes. It stated that the trip was there considered to have been made for personal reasons and that Nasheed has not yet paid back this amount to the state.
The report also points out that the state had used the special budget of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to settle payments worth MVR 21.9 million (US$1.4 million) to two foreign companies who were assisting an investigation which was being conducted by the Presidential Commission, understood to be an investigation of the former government’s sale of oil to the Burmese military junta.
Another transaction considered unlawful by the Auditor General’s report was the settling of pending bills dated between 2005 and 2008 submitted by a Malaysian company for the purchase of items for the presidential palace during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration.
Other incidents stated in the report include failure to submit reports on official trips made abroad or documents to highlight achievements made in these trips, hiring consultants outside of recruitment procedure and without specifying their duties, payment of fines levied due to failure to process bill payments by deadlines and incurring additional spending due to lack of timely organising of trips to local atolls.
The report details the amounts spend in the year 2010 on the annual paid vacation of 30 days with their respective families by the President and the Vice President.
Former President Nasheed is said to have spent MVR 446,578 (US$28,961) on a trip to Singapore with family, while President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, then Vice President, had spent MVR 764,121 (US$49,554) on a trip to Malaysia and America with his own family.
The report calls on the state to put in place policies to govern limits of the amounts that can be spent by the President and Vice President on their annual vacation.
It also points out the lack of documentation to prove that trips made by families of the President or Vice President citing medical purposes were indeed made for those reasons.
The report emphasises that the amounts spent on the President’s official residence had significantly decreased, offering a comparison of the amounts spent since 2007. According to the report, the President’s official residence spent MVR 68.8 million in 2007, MVR 79.7 million in 2008, MVR 42.04 million in 2009 and MVR 27.13 million in 2010.
It cites staff cuts from 313 to 154 personnel, and lower spending on official trips among other reasons for the decreased spending.
Chief of Staff during Nasheed’s administration and current Deputy Chair, Finance, of MDP Ahmed Mausoom was not responding to calls at the time of press. Minivan News was also unable to reach President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad.
Read the full report (Dhivehi) here.