Audit of Waste Management Company uncovers embezzlement, “wasteful” expenditure

An audit of the government owned Waste Management Company has uncovered severe mismanagement and embezzlement.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed had established the company by presidential decree on 15 December 2008 with assets worth MVR 1.5 billion (US$ 97 million).

However, “Since its inception, the company has done nothing to achieve its aims,” Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim has said in a new report.

The company’s sole expenditure in the period 2009- 2011 was on wages, the report notes, adding “state expenditure on the Waste Management Corporation Ltd did not bring any benefit and was completely wasteful.”

With the election of island and atoll councils, the Finance Ministry had recommended the company be dissolved in 2011 as the Local Government Act charged local government with waste management. However, the President’s Office advised against the dissolution, the report said.

In 2010, a European Union and World Bank funded “South Ari-Atoll Regional Waste Management” Project to establish a waste management systems in Alif Dhaal Atoll Bodukaashihuraa was transferred from the Ministry of Housing and Environment to the Waste Management Company on President Nasheed’s orders.

But to this day, the Waste Management Company has not done any work on the project, the report found.

Further, an unnamed board member had embezzled MVR610,000 (US$ 39,354) by doctoring cheques, the report said. The board member was the sole employee in charge of the company’s finances.

The Auditor General’s Office was unable to carry out a full financial audit because the company had failed to submit its annual financial report, the report said.

Moreover, the company had failed to keep proper documentation of its expenditure and revenue or minutes of its board meetings or an asset register.

Expenditure on travel abroad was not documented, while employees were not registered with the pensions scheme as mandated by the Pensions Act, the report said.

Niyaz has recommended criminal charges be filed against all parties who participated in, were accomplice to,and/or were negligent in the embezzlement and wastage of state funds.

He has further called on the government to decide on the company’s future as soon as possible.

Governance NGO Transparency Maldives released a report last week revealed that 83 percent of people surveyed felt corruption had increased or stayed the same during the past two years.

Speaking at the event to launch the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report, President of the Anti-Corruption Commission Hussain Luthfy urged more transparency within government companies in order to foster an atmosphere in which corruption can be addressed proactively.

He suggested that government owned companies often pass resolutions to obstruct the ACC’s investigations.

Transparency Maldives, the local chapter of Transparency International (TI) describes the GCB as one of the tools it uses to better understand corruption.

The group’s most widely used indicator – the Corruption Perceptions Index  – was released last week. For the second consecutive year the Maldives was not ranked after TI was unable to gather the necessary data.