Over MVR300,000 spent on Aslam

The Audit Report of Housing and Environment Ministry for 2011 released yesterday states that from June 2009 until the end of August 2011, a total of MVR 312,928 was spent from the ministry’s budget for mobile phone expenses of Mohamed Aslam when he acted as the Minister of Housing and Environment.

The Auditor General states in the report that, clause 102 of the Constitution stipulates the parliament as the body which determines the salary and privileges of members of the cabinet and thus, the amount paid from the ministry’s budget has to reclaimed and deposited in the State Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The reports also highlights that an amount of MVR 25,200 was spent on a staff break-fast function held during Ramadan of 2010, and that the money was spent from budgets allocated for ministry meetings and seminars. The Auditor General points out that according to point 4.06 (c) of the State Financial Regulation, expenses which are directly made for the benefit of the staff such as hosting teas and dinners must be authorized by the Ministry of Finance.

“We advise that no expense be made in contradiction to the State Financial Regulation. We also advise that that authorization from the Ministry of Finance be sought, as stated in the State Financial Regulation point 4.06 (c), prior to making an expense that will directly benefit the staff,” states the report.

It also states that the ministry had made several expenses against the Public Finance Act on unbudgeted projects, and that the ministry had spent a total of MVR501 million by obtaining loans for projects that were not included in the parliament-approved budget. It states that the ministry had exchanged money from budgets that were allocated much earlier and that the ministry had spent MVR231 million directly from the state budget for these projects. They had also obtained a commercial loan of 481 million Chinese Yuan of which, MVR270 million was dispensed.

Regarding this issue, the Auditor General said that making expenses which were not stated in the parliament-approved budget is a violation of the Constitution, the Public Finance Act and the State Financial Regulation, and that the Auditor General recommends that action be taken against the parties responsible for these violationsin accordance with article 47 and 48 of the Public Finance Act.

Other issues highlighted in the report include MVR5 million being awarded as advance payment from the state budget to the company undertaking construction of Haa Dhaalu Kumundhoo harbour; failing to secure collateral; the exemption of MVR16,542 from the earnings of the State; the reduction from bills payable to MTCC from earnings of MVR42,310 gained from auctions held by the Ministry, which should have been entered as state revenue according the financial regulation. It also highlights the loss incurred during the projects undertaken to provide clean and safe water to the islands.

Regarding the degree of compliance with the law, 2010 Housing Ministry Audit Report states that the Auditor General notes that the ministry and the departments under the ministry had spent from the parliament-approved budget in a manner which violates the terms stated in the Public Finance Act and Regulation, and in contradiction to the amounts and tasks specified in the approved budget.