The audit report of the Ministry of Tourism has revealed over USD 1.7 million the ministry spent amid preparations for the COVID-19 pandemic was outside of its mandate.
The compliance audit report prepared by the Auditor General’s Office on COVID-19 related expenditure of the ministry uncovered multiple issues. According to the report, about 99% of the spending from the ministry was on expenditure outside of its mandate.
Moreover, the report revealed that although any spending from the ministry’s trust fund must be preapproved by the executive committee of the trust fund, none of the expenses was authorised. Additionally, the report revealed the amounts recorded on public accounting systems of the Ministry of Finance and the tourism ministry do not tally either.
The report further revealed the trust fund of the ministry was also used to procure thermal imaging cameras required for airports in the country. Over USD 153,000 was spent from the trust fund to install cameras in Hanimaadhoo International and Gan International airport although none of these are in the ministry’s mandate.
The report further indicates the ministry did not consult other government authorities before buying the cameras required and neither did it make an agreement with the contractor before awarding the work of installation. The report stated the letter of work award was aimed at misappropriating public funds for the benefit of the contractor.
Another issue highlighted in the report was signing an agreement with a contractor to develop Vilivaru Quarantine Facility, before the bid committee decided on the winner. The report also revealed over USD 500,000 was spent as professional fees of an international response and coordination medical team assembled by the ministry.
The compliance audit report also accused the ministry of deceit in preparing statement and documents. The report stated all acts of corruption and misappropriation of state funds will be investigated.