State foots MVR 1.5M bill for use of airport VIP lounge by MPs’ family, friends

Airport workers outside the VIP lounge at Velana International Airport.

The state has spent MVR 1.5 million over the past three years for the use of the VIP lounge at the Velana International Airport (VIA) by family and friends of parliamentarians. 

Documents released by the Parliament at the request of a private citizen shows USD 238,920 (MVR 3,684,146.4) was spent on the use of the VIP lounge by parliamentarians and their family and friends over the past three years. 

The highest spending took place in 2018, when total MVR 1.8 million was spent on the VIP lounge. MVR 793,821 was spent on family and friends of parliamentarians, MVR 588,427 on parliamentarians themselves, and MVR 484,804 on people under their care. 

Total MVR 1.4 million was spent the next year, with the highest spending again on family and friends of parliamentarians at MVR 548,643. This included former as well as incumbent parliamentarians, as the 18th parliamentary assembly ended and the 19th parliamentary assembly began in 2019. 

Spending on the VIP lounge dropped significantly last year, most likely due to the travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Total MVR 443,170 was spent on the VIP lounge in 2020. This included 185,965 on the parliamentarians themselves, MVR 141,555 on their family and friends, and MVR 115,650 on people under their care. 

It was the parliamentarians themselves to changed regulations to have the state cover the cost of the use of the VIP lounge by their family and friends.