The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) confirmed the submission of a case against Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula, over the annulment of the regulation pertaining to shipping agency operations in Maldives.
Lodged by approximately 64 prominent local businessmen, the case asserted that the regulation was nullified on September 16 without the input of the Transport Authority Board, in violation of the Transport Act.
The case also raised allegations that Minister Nahula had misused her authority to nullify the regulation in order to secure illicit benefits for particular entities. Accordingly, the businessmen requested the corruption watchdog to launch an investigation and take any necessary measures.
It was highlighted that Section 12, Article (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act prohibits government employees from using their position or influence, to gain or confer an undue advantage pertaining to a task carried out by the place of employment.
After being published on the government gazette on July 16, the regulation concerning shipping agency operations in Maldives was nullified two months later on September 16.
The regulation prohibits shipping agents and freight forwarders from directly or indirectly charging extra fees before issuing delivery orders. However, an administrative fee of not more than MVR 500 could be directly charged to the consignee. The regulation also mandated shipping agents to register with the Transport Authority.
According to the authority, the regulation was created in order to prevent shipping agencies from imposing additional fees on businessmen.
Several shipping agencies repeatedly complained that the transport ministry had made no move to implement the regulation for the duration it was in effect. These concerns were also conveyed to the ministry by the Transport Authority Board.
The transport ministry asserted that the regulation on shipping agency operations in Maldives was nullified as per a recommendation from the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs and that the decision was part of efforts to amend the guidelines.
Speaking to local media outlet Mihaaru, a spokesperson from the transport ministry revealed that several issues were flagged in the regulation, including stipulations that would have applied to entities other than shipping agencies.
He went on to disclose that Naula had repeatedly sent memos, requesting the amendment of the regulation, to the Transport Authority Board, which prompted the body to delay implementation.
The spokesperson stated that the ministry's decision to nullify the regulation was based on the counsel from the Attorney General's Office that asserted that delaying implementation would be legally unacceptable.