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Minister Aslam temporarily takes over Ministry of Health

Ahmed Aiham
18 August 2020, MVT 17:32
Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam (C-L) alongside Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen (C). PHOTO: NATIONAL EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTRE
Ahmed Aiham
18 August 2020, MVT 17:32

President's Office's spokesperson Ibrahim Hood, on Tuesday, announced the appointment of current Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam to temporarily spearhead the Ministry of Health.

Minister Aslam was tasked with the health ministry after the Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen recused himself pending investigation, following the public uproar over the ministry's controversial spending of state funds for the COVID-19 response.

Spokesperson Hood had on Sunday, assured that the government will not hesitate to take action against individuals responsible “regardless of those involved,” once the final compliance report is officially submitted.

On the same day, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts, decided to launch investigations into the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism's compliance audit reports.

Moreover, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), on Monday, took to press to clarify that the watchdog's investigation into the controversial procurement of ventilators by the ministry was still underway.

In a statement released to counter the rumours circulating on social media regarding the investigation, ACC asserted that the commission has yet to decide whether acts of corruption were involved in the ministry's ventilator deal.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had lodged the violations noted in the audit report at Maldives Police Service and the ACC. The two institutions will conduct a joint investigation into the case.

The compliance audit report on the health ministry's spending of state funds released by the Auditor General's (AG) Office revealed that the health ministry had spent millions in violation of the Public Finance Act, whilst claiming to procure ventilators and other medical supplies.

Moreover, the report stated that there was no way to guarantee that the state had received the items that were supposedly purchased by the ministry.

Although the ministry had previously maintained that ventilators were being procured from Dubai company Executors General Trading LLC with the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the audit revealed that these were false claims as well.

The Dubai company was one of the three companies tasked with the procurement of ventilators for Maldives' COVID-19 response. The state has already paid MVR 30.9 million for the ventilators, covering 90 percent of the total cost of MVR 34 million.

While only 10 of the 75 ventilators have been procured so far, local media reports that none of these 10 ventilators fit the requirement for treating COVID-19 patients.

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