Parliament Public Accounts Committee passed a motion on Monday ordering the Auditor General to conduct a special audit of COVID-19 related spendings on medical supplies made via State Trading Organization (STO).
The motion was submitted by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member for Dhaandhoo constituency, MP Yauqoob Abdulla and seconded by Addu City’s member for North Hithadhoo constituency, MP Mohamed Aslam, before being unanimously passed by the eight-member committee.
In his submission, MP Yauqoob proposed requesting the Auditor General's Office to carry out a special audit on government expenditure on COVID-19 response undertaken by various state bodies and institutions. The auditor general is requested to complete the task within a 45 day period.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Mohamed Ameer revealed last week that state's total expenditure on COVID-19 response had reached MVR 814.2 million as of May 11, of which 72 percent accounted for STO receipts. Of this, MVR 390 million was spent on "supplies and requisites for service provision” including spendings on medical consumables, test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Minister Ameer revealed 86 percent of all medical consumables were procured through STO.
Citing government figures, MP Yauqoob added that an audit was necessary to ensure that the funds were used in accordance with the law and established financial regulations.
“STO is a public company. My submission to request a special audit is to determine whether payments made via STO followed procurement guidelines in place”, said MP Yauqoob.
Noting challenges raised by the Auditor General’s office with regard to coordination with the body under investigation in the conduct of special audits, MP Yauqoob appealed to the Auditor General to share such concerns with the committee in a timely manner.
“We would like to be included throughout the process and know whether the STO cooperates or not, and for us to be informed if STO does not extend the required support”, the MP added.
On May 4, the government for the first time publicized details of government expenditure on COVID-19 response. Finance ministry has since commenced publishing weekly expenditure updates. By May 14, the total spending towards COVID-19 efforts stood at MVR 873.3 million.