Defence Ministry audit reveals MVR6.78 million worth unlawful purchases

The Ministry of Defence and National Security audit report for the year 2011 has revealed that the ministry unlawfully purchased goods worth MVR6.78 million through Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) cooperative society SIFCO.

The report states that MVR4.7 million worth goods were purchased through SIFCO, contrary to article 8.14 of state finance regulation which states that goods and services below MVR25,000 should be purchased only after reviewing proposals from at least three interested parties, and with an official written justification for the choice made.

It also said MVR2 million worth goods were purchased against article 8.15 of the regulation, which states goods and services above MVR25,000 should be purchased through a publicly announced competitive bidding process.

The auditor general (AG) recommended action against responsible persons as per the Public Finance Act

The report also highlighted that MVR1,200,324 was paid to military personnel on leave, particularly to those studying overseas, against relevant rules and regulations.

Salary and allowances worth MVR344,299  was said to have been paid to a defense adviser posted at the Maldivian High Commission in India for days without any record of attending work.

The AG’s opinion given in the report said the ministry’s 2011 budget was not spent within the set limits set, nor was it spent to fulfill the given activities and objectives.

The AG also questioned the validity of financial statements declared by the ministry, stating that the “statement of liabilities” and “statement of assets” declared “does not truthfully reflect” the actual assets and liabilities of the ministry.

The ministry’s figures were MVR39.8 million as assets and MVR29.8 million as liabilities for the year 2011.

The document highlighted that resources donated for the SAARC summit, which can be considered as tangible assets, were were not valued and included in the financial statements, and that special military equipment which could be considered the same were also not included in the statements.

In addition to that MVR122.7 million which should be included in capital expenditure were included as recurrent expenditure (as spent on seminars and meetings).

The final budget for the ministry in 2011 was MVR834 million, of which MVR789.47 million was spent within the year.


Police and MNDF on recruitment drive

The Maldives Police Services has issued an advert today seeking 50 new police officers.

Meanwhile, the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF) has said it has received 470 applications for 45 newly opened jobs.

The recruitment drive for security officers comes amidst criticism over high defense spending.

The proposed state budget for 2014 allocates MVR 876.7 million (US$ 57 million) for the defense sector – 5.3 percent of the MVR 17.5 billion (US$ 1.1 billion) budget.

Meanwhile, the World Bank in a report published in November said the Maldives’ already excessive wage bill had ballooned in 2013 due to salary increases for the police and military, as well as the Supreme Court ordered back payment of civil service wage cuts.

The Maldives is spending beyond its means, the World Bank has said.

According to the MNDF, 45 recruits will be chosen based on a process involving aptitude, fitness, medical tests and a final interview.

The current recruitment drive is expected to staff Marine Corps, Special Forces, Fire and Rescue Service, Special Protection Group, Military Police, Medical Service, Corps of Engineers, Service Corps and Coast Guard. The minimum requirements for recruits include being of 18-28 years of age and completing tenth grade with at least four passes.

MPS is seeking 25 female and 25 male officers for the police constable rank.

The former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and current President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom have both courted the security forces, offering increased pay and benefits to the military and police.

Mutinous elements of the police and military precipitated the resignation of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012.

A special housing program for military personnel was announced during Dr Waheed’s administration after retired colonel Mohamed Nazim was appointed as Defence Minister.

Nazim, whom the opposition MDP accuse of playing a lead role in bringing down President Nasheed’s government in a ‘military coup’, was reappointed as defence minister by President Yameen.

Earlier this year 50 Hulhumalé flats were awarded to MNDF officials, and foundations were for another 300 were laid.

During his presidential campaign, President Yameen pledged to retain this program and to further improve the military by providing resources and amending laws to empower the institution.

Yameen also pledged to provide accommodation for families of soldiers posted outside their residential islands. Some of these have been included in his first 100 days road map.

Following his re-appointment under Yameen, Defence Minister Nazim announced 72 new flats will be built for the MNDF in Male’, and said he intends to establish a TV Channel and a day-care center for children of military officials. Facilities at the ‘Senahiya’ military hospital are to be improved and the hospital is to be opened up for public.

Nazim has also said the military intends to establish a welfare system that does not rely on the state budget.

The MNDF cooperative society SIFCO has registered a joint venture “Sifainge Welfare Kunfuni (SIWEC)” with the government to fund military welfare services. SIFCO owns 90 percent of the company.

SIWEC has already invested in the tourism industry and has started development of “Uthuru Thilafushi” for military use and has expressed an interest in real estate in the future

In his recent trip to India, Nazim sought India’s help in strengthening the Maldives military, obtaining a helicopter. India has also pledged to provide a landing craft.