NDMA audit: Food supplied to facilities at inflated rates

A compliance audit on COVID-19 related spending by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reveals that the food to prepare meals for people in resorts turned quarantine facilities and for people stranded in Male’ due to the lockdown were supplied at inflated rates, well above the controlled rates set by the government and the market rates.

Auditor General’s Office released its compliance audit report on NDMA’s COVID-19 related spending on Tuesday.

It uncovers multiple irregularities.

The Economic Ministry declared controlled rates for onions, potato, yellow lentils, and eggs sold in all residential islands on April 6, after the coronavirus pandemic led to a shortage in the products, leading to a rise in market rates.

The Economic Ministry set the ceiling price of a kilo of onions as MVR 20, a kilo of potatoes as MVR 20, a kilo of yellow lentils as MVR 45, and an egg as MVR 1.80.

However, the audit reveals the products were procured to prepare meals for people in quarantine facilities and transit facilities for stranded travellers at well above the controlled rates.

The report states that NDMA spent MVR 23,457 more than it should have to procure rice, sugar, flour, onions, and lentils.

The report states that NDMA also procured some of the additional food supplies such as at well above the market rates, spending MVR 224,546 more than it should have on smoked tuna, cases of canned tuna, rihaakuru, milk powder, pepper, dried chili, fruits, soft drinks, raw tuna and chicken bacon.

The auditors calculated the cost based on information obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics and various suppliers.

The Auditor General’s Office has therefore instructed that the excess payment made on products sold at controlled prices be recovered, and that necessary action be taken against suppliers who sold the products at inflated rates.

The Auditor General’s Office has also instructed that procurements not be made unless at reasonable rates, after comparison between the quoted rates and market rates, even if procurements are carried out under single-source method.

Violation of controlled rates is punishable by a fine of up to MVR 100,000 if it’s the first violation, and by a MVR 100,000 fine and suspension of business for up to six months for repeat violations.