Former member of the interim Elections Commission (EC), Ahmed ‘Saabe’ Shahid, has denied allegations of corruption made by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the purchase of over 50 laptops without a public tender ahead of the October 2008 presidential election.
In a statement issued to the media yesterday, Saabe insisted that the procurement of the laptops was a necessary expense for the commission’s preparations for the historic multi-party elections in October.
The first 20 laptops were purchased after considering prices proposed on September 22 in response to a public announcement on September 16. The first round of the presidential election was held on October 8 and the second round run-off on October 28.
“To my recollection, additional laptops were bought on three further occasions,” reads the statement from Saabe. “Of these, the 10 laptops purchased on October 4 with my authorisation were bought on very short notice just four days before the 2008 presidential election.”
The former deputy chair of the EC explained that normal procurement procedures takes at least six days between the public announcement and the purchase.
The 10 laptops were therefore procured based on the September 16 announcement “after considering the period and [quoted] price of the previous transaction” and the company that could provide the notebook computers at the earliest possible date.
“A quotation was received from the company for this and the reason for the purchase was stated in that quotation,” he wrote.
Saabe noted that the EC was afforded a very short period of time to conduct the first multi-party presidential election and the first election where voters had to be registered.
In addition to considerable efforts in preparation, said Saabe, the commission had to make arrangements for Maldivians living abroad to participate in the election and register workers at resorts and industrial islands “to ensure the right to vote for every Maldivian citizen in a very short space of time.”
Saabe observed that while Rf99 million was allocated for the two rounds of the presidential election, the EC actually spent Rf65.1 million and “saved the state Rf30.9 million.”
The savings were the result of measures taken by the commission to reduce cost and wastage, he suggested.
“Section 18 of the Elections Commission Act states that the commission cannot be charged for actions taken with good intentions,” he said, adding that the transactions were made with the intention of doing “the best possible work in an extraordinarily short period of time.”