President Abdulla Yameen has formed a new welfare company for the Maldives National Defence Force, a month before he is due to leave office.
The Sifainge Ekuveri Kunfuni (Military Friendship Company) was instituted as an independent legal entity with a capital of MVR 1 billion (US$64 million), according to a presidential decree published Monday on the government gazette.
Defense Minister Adam Shareef Umar announced on his Facebook account that the new company will help “improve the welfare and finances of the military.”
“Forward Maldivian soldiers, forward Maldives,” he added.
The military already has two welfare companies – Sifainge Welfare Company (SIWEC) and Sifainge Cooperative (SIFCO).
Shareef told Mihaaru these two companies will not be dissolved but their assets will be transferred to the newly-formed SEK.
Banks were refusing to lend to SIWEC and SIFCO, he revealed, which was the reason for a stalled project to build flats for soldiers.
Some 300 soldiers who were awarded the apartments have reportedly been paying monthly down-payments since late 2013.
According to the defence ministry’s 2015 audit, a private contractor was overpaid MVR92 million (US$6 million) for the unfinished housing project.