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Corruption and embezzlement behind Yameen’s development, alleges Ibu

The president has set his 2018 re-election bid on infrastructure projects.



The opposition presidential candidate has raised concerns about corruption and embezzlement behind infrastructure projects undertaken by President Abdulla Yameen’s government.

In an interview with Mihaaru, Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih said that the government was refusing to look at the “dark side” of the development projects.

“Whether you look at the IGMH new building, or the bridge or the airport, corruption and embezzlement are behind them,” Ibu said.

Yameen has set his 2018 re-election bid on several new multi-million dollar infrastructure projects.

These include a 25-storey extension to the public hospital in Malé, an extension of the international airport including a new runway, new airports and a US$200 million bridge.

Ibu said most of these projects were being awarded to contractors that had bid two or three times the actual cost of construction.

He singled out the US$140 million project to build a hospital tower, saying three or four such towers could have been built with the same amount of money.

Most of these infrastructure projects are designated as “mega projects” by a cabinet council, allowing the government to forego any transparent public bidding processes and award the contracts to companies chosen by the government.

The changes to the public finance regulations allowing this bypass was criticised, including from the anti-corruption watchdog which called on the government to reverse the changes.

The hospital tower is the most expensive publicly funded building in the country.

“This is something that is in front of us. There were cheaper proposals for the same building, but it was given to the most expensive proposal. The contract was awarded outside the rules set by the economic committee (cabinet committee). It was awarded before approval was given by the President’s Office. Afterwards the office gave approval and the committee reviewed the proposal after it was awarded too,” Ibu said.

He also flagged the corruption behind a deal that awarded a prime piece of real estate given to a brother-in-law of Yameen for 50 years.

The waterfront property where Chinese contractors are building a multi-story luxury apartment complex was leased for 50 years without any extension fees to NPH Investments, owned by Yameen’s brother-in-law.

Ibu said his administration will investigate all contracts awarded by the government for corruption and embezzlement.

“The bidding process [for state-run projects] has to be conducted in an open and transparent manner. They [Yameen’s government] have brought several changes to the Public Finance Act too. The law was very strong earlier. We will reverse these changes. Everything will be done openly and transparently. That is the most important step [I will take] to stop corruption,” Ibu said.