A compliance audit on COVID-19 related spending by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reveals violations of public finance regulation in arranging accommodation for frontline workers in guesthouses in Male’ region, and for coronavirus patients in resorts converted to isolation facilities.
Auditor General’s Office released its compliance audit report on NDMA’s COVID-19 related spending from January to the end of June, on Tuesday. It shows that until the end of June 30, NDMA spent MVR 38.8 million on renting resorts and guesthouses.
The report highlights that some of the spending violated the public finance regulation, and concludes that NDMA’s finance executive and officials who approved spending failed to sufficiently uphold their responsibilities.
FAILURE TO SIGN AGREEMENTS WITH GUESTHOUSES IN MALE’ REGION
The report states that NDMA did not prepare an agreement for rent of guesthouses to provide accommodation for employees of state institutions. And that because of the lack of existence of an agreement, the services to be provided by separate guesthouses and the rates for the services, remain unclear.
As a result, different guesthouses billed different rates, leading to the state having to incur additional expenses.
“We note that different guesthouses billed different rates, and the state had to incur additional expenses for certain additional services such as laundry service, extra bed charge, and extra person charge,” reads the report.
PAYMENT ISSUES WITHOUT VERIFYING INFORMATION ON PARTIES ACCOMODATED AT GUESTHOUSES
The report states that NDMA rented guesthouses without confirming the number of rooms at the guesthouses, the duration of rent, and the number of people at the guesthouses.
The report states that based on the information collected from some of the institutions that worked in the frontlines, payments were issued for unoccupied rooms in some of the guesthouses, and in some instances, for more than the duration the rooms were occupied for.
The guesthouses too, failed to manage information regarding the frontline workers who stayed there, and check-ins and check-outs.
The report states that as a result of the poor management of the information, the exact value of the extra expenses incurred by the state remains unclear.
“As a result of lack of proper management of occupancy information by the institutions and NDMA, we are unable determine the total value of the additional expenses,” reads the report.
PAYMENTS TO A RESORT GREATER THAN THE AGREED AMOUNT
While NDMA failed to sign agreements with some of the guesthouses, agreements were signed for the use of resorts as isolation facilities.
The report states that as per the agreement, the state was required to pay MVR 750 per room per night.
However, one of the resorts billed the state at the rate of MVR 840 per room per night, after adding 12 percent TGST. This led to the state spending MVR 206,000 more than the agreed amount.