Audit reveals issues with Aasandha's COVID-19 spending

The Auditor General’s Office has identified misconduct in the government’s health insurance company, Aasandha’s COVID-19 spendings.

The Audit Office on Thursday publicized the Compliance Report on Aasandha’s COVID-19 spendings, which showed that the company had not acted according to regulations in providing financial assistance to Maldivians stranded abroad due to border closure following the COVID-19 pandemic.

A budget of MVR 83,315,122 was allocated for the company’s COVID-19 spending, out of which MVR 14,838,341 has already been utilized. The largest amounts were spent on providing financial assistance to Maldivians who were abroad for medical treatment both privately and under state-sponsorship when the borders shut down due to the pandemic, stranding them in foreign lands. A significant amount was also spent on providing income support to those whose income had been affected by the pandemic.

The audit revealed that financial assistance was issued to some of those stranded abroad against the regulations. While the regulations state that a copy of the person’s return ticket must be obtained, no such documentation was obtained by Aasandha prior to issuing financial aid. Due to this, the date starting from which the funds were to be issued are unclear, said the report. MVR 157,284 was issued to 26 individuals by the National Social Protection Agency in this manner until June 30, it said.

The audit report also noted that financial assistance was provided to individuals for dates prior to their scheduled departure date. MVR 116,807 was spent in such cases, said the report. It further said financial assistance had been provided to a deceased person after the date of his death, and that some of the individuals who qualified for the assistance received aid from two different entities. Some cases where the aid provided did not match the rates in the regulation were also identified.

Compliance audit reports on the Tourism Ministry and Health Ministry had also identified significant issues in the ministries' COVID-19 spending.