Business & Tourism
Finance ministry gets RTI request over ‘US$40 mn loan’ from OPEC body
The loan was announced almost two months ago but basic questions about it remain unanswered.
The Maldives Finance Ministry has been asked to provide information on a US$40 million loan after the ministries that publicly announced the funding were unable to provide details about it.
The government has so far not answered basic questions about the loan, including when it was granted and if the money is in place, despite ministers announcing it nearly two months ago.
On July 16, hours after the European Union said it was imposing sanctions on the Maldives over human rights abuses, two ministers said the country was getting a US$40 million loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
There was no record of a new US$40 million loan at the time of going to press from OFID, which did not confirm or deny if this funding existed.
OFID refused to say if the Maldives received a US$40 million loan for the projects mentioned by the ministers, when the Maldives last received OFID funding, what this funding was for and what communication OFID had received from the Maldives about the loan statement from the ministers.
The Maldives Independent contacted the Housing Ministry and Environment Ministry with questions about the loan, including when it was granted and why there was no information about it on the OFID website, but no answers were available at the time of going to press.
– Many questions, no answers –
Right to Information (RTI) requests were filed on August 14 with these ministries to ask when the US$40 million loan was approved, when it was granted, why there was nothing about the loan on the OFID website, why OFID did not deny or confirm the loan’s existence, if the loan exists or the ministers lied, and the start and finish date for the projects to be funded by this loan.
According to the Right to Information Act the ministries had 21 days, including weekends and public holidays, to respond.
On September 3, a day before the deadline, the Maldives Independent received the RTI response from the Environment Ministry.
“As the ministry of finance and treasury signs loan agreements taken by the state for sewage and water services in islands across the Maldives, we inform you that the requested information about the loan is not handled by this ministry,” the short statement read.
The Housing Ministry had not responded to the RTI request by the end of the deadline, meaning it has broken the law.
On Monday a new RTI request was filed at the Finance Ministry to find the information that was sought from these two ministries. The RTI deadline for finance ministry ends on October 1.
OFID has a US$159.6 million project portfolio in the Maldives.
There are 15 projects listed and four are ongoing: two are related to sanitation, one to regional hospital development and the fourth to the development of the Maldives’ main international airport.
The water and sanitation projects began in March 2013 and December 2014, with combined funding of more than US$73 million. The ministers said the money would be used to fund harbour construction projects but no such OFID-backed projects are ongoing.
File photo shows the housing minister and environment minister