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Millions spent unlawfully by prisons authority

The Maldives prisons authority spent millions unlawfully or accumulated it as a loss.

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Millions were spent unlawfully by the Maldives’ prisons authority or accumulated as a loss, an audit has revealed.

The report, signed by Auditor General Hassan Ziyath, said a lot of work at Maldives Correctional Service breached public finance rules.

“No announcements or competitive bids were held before handing over projects,” said the audit published Sunday.

The Prison Cooperative Society (PRISCO) spent MVR 5.88 million (US$3.78 million) unlawfully on goods and services, including staff uniforms, installation of camera systems and a water plant project.

Staff uniforms for 2014 and 2015 were bought in violation of  finance laws and rules, the compliance audit for MCS said.

About MVR2.89 million was spent on camera systems in the high-security Maafushi prison. The project was handed over without a bid and the purchased equipment had not been used by the end of 2016.

The water plant project in Asseyri prison was arranged and handed over through PRISCO  – with no announcement or bid – to two private companies. The project was not completed by the deadline and no agreements were signed.

MCS lost MVR25.26 million because of having to buy water due to project delays and putting the water plant to use, the audit said.

Some MVR91,615 was missing from the safe of Hulhumalé detention centre and MVR3.2 million worth of goods were bought without filling in the required forms.

The audit recommended that MCS follow finance laws and rules, as well as plan projects before seeking out interested parties.

It also advised that the lost money be recovered and action be taken against those who had been negligent.

The Auditor General’s office has published a wealth of reports in recent weeks highlighting financial missteps.

It found negligence and poor record-keeping at the health ministry, with more than MVR96 million paid as overtime at the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital without proper oversight.

Another audit uncovered an illegal oil purchase for Kaadedhdhoo airport, with more than MVR1.1 million spent in violation of public finance laws and regulations.

Despite the outbreak of audits a local NGO, Transparency Maldives, was critical of state institutions including the Auditor General’s office.

“The lack of trust paves the way for apathy and disengagement in democratic processes, as identified in the National Integrity Assessment by Transparency Maldives,” Aiman Rasheed told the Maldives Independent.

The 2014 assessment of the effectiveness of Maldivian institutions in preventing and fighting corruption pointed to a “stagnation in democratic consolidation and a reversal in democratic gains.”

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