A compliance audit report on the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)’s Covid-19 related spending has unveiled public finance regulations violations, in providing accommodation and food, for both frontline workers and patients.
While the Ministry of Finance’s Covid-19 weekly spending report shows that NDMA had spent MVR 772.4 by September 10, the Auditor General’s Office’s compliance audit report is based on the spending between January 1 to June 30.
In this period, NDMA spent MVR 35,886,412 on accommodation facilities as well as MVR 23,019,218 on food, for both frontline workers and Covid-19 patients.
ISSUES IN PROVIDING ACCOMMODATION
While MVR 16,737,338 was used for rent of guesthouses in the Male’ region to provide accommodation for frontline workers and other Covid-19 response workers, the AG Office report noted this was done without the required agreements under the public finance regulations.
It noted that rates for the guesthouses as well as the services to be provided were unclear due to this, and led to additional expenses such as laundry and extra bed/person charges.
The report also states that the guesthouse bills were paid without verifying personal information of those accommodated there.
As such, the AG Office noted that NDMA was at times billed for unoccupied rooms at some guesthouses, as well as for more than the duration of occupation.
As for the accommodation of Covid-19 patients, which was mostly at resorts during the period of the audit, the report noted that a three-month quarantine/isolation facility agreements were signed with the resorts.
Noting that this agreement is to ensure that the state will not have to spend more that MVR 750 on a room per night, its said that NDMA spent an additional MVR 206,280 than agreed after one of the resorts charged them MVR 840 for a room after adding a 12 percent tourism goods and services tax.
ISSUES IN PROVIDING FOOD
While a total of MVR 17,125,268 was spent on food services during the same period, questions have raised over MVR 9,806,724 used due to failure to keep records of expenditure.
The audit compliance report states that it was unable to confirm that the amount was used for actual Covid-19 related spending, due to the lack of records.