Corruption alleged in use of MVR150m budget for independence day

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is investigating corruption in the home ministry’s use of an MVR150million (US$9.7million) budget allotted for independence day activities. The ministry is accused of awarding lucrative projects to private companies without a bidding process.

The Maldives will mark 50 years of independence from the British on July 26.

An office set up under the home ministry has awarded a restaurant New Port with a MVR1million catering contract and a British company called The Projection Studio with a contract to manage sound, light and projection at the official celebrations.

Several monuments, public parks and the official jetty are also under renovation. A civil society group has been given a professional fee of MVR1million to make a replica of a historic boat.

President Abdulla Yameen has meanwhile bought a brand new luxury yacht worth US$4million for the independence day celebrations.

“The ACC formed a special committee to investigate the office on its own initiative after receiving complaints,” said assistant director Hassan Manik.

However, the head of the Minivan 50 (independence 50) office and deputy home minister Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem denied corruption and said: “Instead of opening a public bidding process we are approaching local and foreign companies with relevant expertise and awarding the contract to the cheapest option with a special permit from the finance ministry.”

He also told Minivan News the ACC was overseeing the office’s transactions on their invitation.

Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad confirmed the provision of a special permit for the Minivan 50 office to “hand out some of the projects.”

While Saleem had refused to disclose the budget of allocated to independence day celebrations, Jihad confirmed to Minivan News that the figure amounted to MVR150 million.

Saleem insisted that the private companies were not profiting off of independence day activities, but that they were only charging a “professional fee.”

The deputy minister said the activities had been planned after a public consultation. The home ministry had called for proposals in 2014 and held a public forum this year to discuss proposals. “The celebration activities were decided by the public,” he said.

The home ministry has held a mandatory parade for all students, a swim between capital Malé and suburb Villingili and slaughtered 150 goats for the golden jubilee of independence.




Largest safari boat ever constructed in the Maldives launched

The largest safari yacht ever constructed in the Maldives was launched from Alifushi port in Raa Atoll on April 22, local media reports.

The vessel was commissioned by Polish company “Scuba Spa”, which is registered in the Maldives, and constructed by Alifushi Island resident Mohamed Yusuf.

The 167 foot by 37 foot boat was under construction for two years and four months, Yusuf told local media. In 2010, an electrical fault caused the vessel and construction shed to burn down, however construction was re-started the following year.

While Scuba Spa has spent approximately MVR 5 million (US$ 324,255) on the boat, the construction costs alone totalled nearly MVR 3 million (US$ 194,553), according to Yusuf.

Lowering the vessel into the water took the construction team three months, he added.

The safari yacht is currently being loaded with travel necessities and Scuba Spa plans for the first passengers to arrive May 4, Yusuf said.


Cabinet to establish safari boat marina near Male’

A safari yacht marina is to be established in near Male’ to provide safe port facilities for vessels, local media has reported.

The President’s Office said cabinet made the decision after discussing a paper presented by the Ministry of Transport and Communication.

The cabinet noted that safari boats – which often serve alcohol on board – are one of the main generators of foreign currency.

According to local media, a competitive bidding process will be used to find an appropriate party for the project.


Dead body found between Villimale’ and Gulhi Falhu

A dead body has been found in the sea between Villimale’ and Gulhi Falhu today (February 13), local media has reported.

Authorities are currently searching for a German tourist who went missing on Sunday after jumping into the sea from an anchored yacht near Male’.

According to local media, police confirmed a body had been found in the sea but refused to disclose any further details.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that the missing man jumped from the yacht MY Enok to conduct some repair work.


Police continue search for missing German tourist

Police are searching for a German tourist who went missing after he jumped in the sea from a yacht moored near Hulhumale.

According to police, the man reportedly jumped into the water in search of his missing companion, who was later picked up in a speed boat and taken to hospital.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) said the military’s policy was to conduct searches for three days after a person was reported missing.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that the missing man jumped from the yacht MY Enok to conduct some repair work.