Maldives streamlines tourism revenue inflow to curb graft

In the most significant step to date since the largest corruption scandal in Maldives' history rocked the tiny island nation, government Sunday announced a tighter regulation to streamline tourism revenue inflow.

The regulation would now see tourism revenue go through the archipelago's inland revenue as opposed to the tourism ministry.

After signing the MOU with Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA), tourism minister Moosa Zameer said this step was a series of measures implemented by president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to deny graft in the future.

The official audit report into the scandal, had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company with strong links to president Yameen’s former deputy Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

Zameer said the revenue from island leases, fees to resort licenses would now be accepted by MIRA.

Tourism ministry would also share data linked to its clients with MIRA which according to Zameer would ensure maximum accountability and transparency.

Commissioner general of taxation Yazeed Mohamed assured complete discretion with the tourism ministry data.

President Yameen had been subject to intense opposition criticism over his insistence that he was unaware of his deputy’s transgressions.

A recent documentary released by Al Jazeera had brought the scandal to international limelight.

Government however, had completely rebuffed the 'unsubstantiated' evidence which the Doha based broadcaster claims to have uncovered in the expose.