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Electoral watchdog unduly assigned ballot printing: Finance Minister

19 October 2018, MVT 18:18
Finance Minister Ahmed Munawar at the ceremony to sign ADB's aid for waste management in Maldives. FILE PHOTO
19 October 2018, MVT 18:18

Minister of Finance and Treasury Ahmed Munawar, on Thursday, declared that the Elections Commission (EC) violated the Public Finance Act by assigning the printing of ballot papers, for the recently held Presidential Election, to M7 Print Pvt Ltd.

Speaking on a Channel 13 programme, Munawar stated that both Novelty Printers and M7 had initially quoted prices including a single security feature. M7 added two additional features after EC requested the inclusion of at least five security features.

According to Munawar, EC then insisted that the Finance Ministry grant printing rights to M7 Print, stating that no other option was suitable. This was despite the fact that M7 had quoted a higher price than the one offered by Novelty Printers.

The Finance Ministry had previously instructed EC to award printing rights to the company that made the cheapest offer.

Munawar stated that he had no choice but to allow EC to award the project to M7 Print as there had been only a two-week period to the election at the time, which could not be delayed from the slated date of September 23.

The minister highlighted the need to investigate the issue because it later surfaced that only M7 was asked to increase security features, while Novelty had achieved the highest points in the selection process. The granting of printing rights is a focal point of the constitutional case filed by incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom at the Supreme Court to nullify the election results.

Hussain Shaheem, the lawyer representing EC, has denied any violations of the Public Finance Act and guaranteed that EC had attained permission from the Finance Ministry.

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