President Abdulla Yameen has urged the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to expedite investigations involving infrastructure projects worth “hundreds of millions of rufiyaa” as the government is facing losses due to delays.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for a land reclamation project in the island of Thulusdhoo in Kaafu atoll this morning, President Yameen appealed to the ACC to complete investigations as soon as possible in order to enable the government to resume projects halted at the commission’s orders.
“When these big projects are halted, the preliminary investigation or assessment should be completed within a certain period,” he said.
“For example, if work on the IGMH [Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital] building is stopped more than once because of problems involving corruption, it is our request for the Anti-Corruption Commission to do it in a way that does not [stall the project].”
He added that the new building was necessary for the government to provide better services from the main tertiary hospital in the capital.
“Doubtless there might be matters that could facilitate corruption in that project. But that is not something our government would encourage or do,” he said.
If the commission suspected corruption, Yameen said that his administration would comply with ACC instructions to halt projects pending an investigation and welcome the findings.
Yameen stressed the importance of the commission’s determining a “timeline” for investigations.
The ACC has told the state broadcaster, however, that the commission has always endeavoured to complete investigations as quickly as possible in order to avoid losses to the public and the government.
The commission noted that recurring problems hindering investigations included having to provide a legally-mandated period for accused parties to respond to allegations after seeking legal counsel, as well as difficulties in obtaining relevant documents from state institutions.
The commission also insisted that it has always shown a way to continue with halted projects, which was also the case with the new IGMH building.
In March, the ACC ordered a halt to the construction of the new IGMH building by Amin Construction Pvt Ltd for a second time following complaints alleging that the renegotiated contract was MVR16 million in excess of the budgeted amount.
President Yameen has meanwhile said that his administration would not pursue corruption investigations against officials of the previous government.
He added, however that the government would not interfere with the work of the auditor general or the ACC.
On the project launched today to reclaim 33 hectares of land in Thulusdhoo, Yameen noted that island would double in size at the completion of the project.
“We are creating an asset. An asset is something you have to make full use of. If not, it could be lost and become worthless,” he said.
The new land would create economic opportunities and allow the government to provide housing for residents of Thulusdhoo, he said.
Projects for the construction of a harbour as well as water and sewerage in Thulusdhoo will begin this year, the president pledged.
Yameen also reiterated his call to both the public and local councils to put aside political differences and cooperate with the government’s implementation of development projects.