ACC identifies red flags in Hajj quota policies

A report issued by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has stated that Maldives Hajj Corporation policies on issuing Hajj quota to companies are vulnerable to corruption.

In the research report on Hajj Corporation published on Tuesday, it was identified that some of quotas allocated to the government from the assured quotas among the 1000 granted to the Maldives were compromised for political reasons.

The quotas allocated for the government which are held on reserve are to be utilized to compensate individuals who were cheated by different companies that take payment for the pilgrimage and end up not sending the individuals on the blessed journey. As these slots are compromised for political reasons, some individuals are unable to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, said the report.

In the study conducted from 2017 to 2018, it was also identified that parties submitting proposals to carry groups on pilgrimage sought the assistance of staff at the Islamic Ministry in preparing and submitting their papers. Although the agreement made between after submission of proposal and the bidding phase states that no extra charges may be taken from those wishing to go on the pilgrimage, extra payments have been taken from individuals, noted the report further.

While such payments are taken without issuing a receipt in return, it has posed some challenges in investigatng the actions of the non-compliant companies. There is no organized system which tells the number of Maldivians traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage, it noted further.

Adding that the special VIP quotas issued to the Maldivian government from the Saudi Arabian government iare misused, the report also noted that while the current regulations states that those who have not performed a Hajj should be given priority when issuing quota allocations, the lack of a system that provides accurate information has led to corruption in issuing quota.

While ACC publicized the report on Tuesday, State Minister of Islamic Ministry Ahmed Shafiu and other senior officials from the ministry attended the ceremony held to issue the report. The report was presented by ACC member Yazmeed Mohamed.