Ineligible applicants have received income support: audit

The Auditor General's Office has said income support had been issued to several ineligible recipients under the government's Income Support Allowance Scheme. The Auditor General's Office published its findings in its Performance Audit Report on the scheme.

The state introduced the Income Support Allowance Scheme in May 2020 under its Economic Relief Package for those whose employment was affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A large number of people whose livelihood had been affected due to the pandemic requested the government for financial assistance when the income support program was introduced.

The Performance Audit Report on the scheme noted that the policies to provide income support to affected individuals were established within a short period of time, and that appropriate guidelines were established to verify the applications. However, while it is an eligibility requirement that applicants do not receive income from other sources, there is no system that can be used to verify the fact, the report said. Due to this, there is a possibility for applicants to falsify documents and claim the allowance even if they are ineligible to receive it, the report noted. This in turn makes it probable that income support has been issued to ineligible candidates. The audit report also noted that while applicants must be receiving less than MVR 5,000 as income to be eligible for income support, there was no way to verify the income of applicants who receives their payments in cash.

The report said the audit identified 217 applications that were not eligible to receive the allowance, and most were people who were already employed. In this regard, a review conducted by the Economic ministry show MVR 409,969 that has been issued to such individuals must be returned to the state, it said. Work is now in progress to recover the funds, the report further said.

Although issues have been noted in disbursing funds under the income support scheme, the scheme's aim has been achieved, for the most part, the audit said. 69 percent of the funds allocated for the scheme have been disbursed to 86 percent of applicants by March 18 this year, it said.