MNDF, Police medical expense surge a concern: Audit

Police on patrol: the law enforcement authority received 794 total cases of criminal offenses in May 2024 -- Sun Photo/ Fayaz Moosa

The Auditor General's Office highlights year-on-year increment in medical expenses for the security forces (MNDF and Maldives Police Service), as a significant concern.

In the Budget Position Report, Auditor General notes that government provides Staff Medical Expenses through insurance schemes and "through budget allocated" to the security forces.

It adds that these schemes "runs parallel to Aasandha, meaning beneficeries of these schemes" gets medical expenditure coverage from both Aasandha and these schemes.

Moreover, 98 percent of the expenditure incurred for covering medical expenditure of the employees in the security forces, is also extended to cover the cost of medical expenditure of their immediate family members - thereby bumping the actual expenditure well above budgeted total for each year.

From 2019 to 2023, the Staff Medical Expenses in annual terms has observed increments both in actual spending and budgeted total.

The Auditor General's Office further detailed that the actual expenditure far exceeded the budgeted total for Staff Medical Expenses since 2019 onward.

As such, for the year 2023, the allocated budget is MVR 170 million, but as of September last year, the approved budget was fully utilized.

It was anticipated that the expenditure would rise by the end of last fiscal year, and according to the revised budget the expenditure by the end of the year will be MVR 241 million - an increment of 35 percent of the approved budget.

With free medical coverage through Aasandha already provided to security forces, an additional scheme allocated for them puts additional constraints on the state budget, Auditor General's Office added.

The budgeted annual total for Aasandha scheme last year was MVR 1.04 billion, but by September last year, the state-initiated health insurance scheme's expenditure exceeded 49 percent from the budgeted total (registering MVR 1.55 billion).

This mandated the inclusion of an MVR 1.2 billion supplement to Aasandha last year.

With a trend of year-on-year excess in expenditure, the state-intiated scheme puts more strains on the state expenses according to Auditor General's Office.

For the current fiscal year, government allocated MVR 1.9 billion for Aasandha. Statistics show that the state has already spent MVR 838 million by the end of 2024 first quarter.

Moreover, Aasandha expenditure has seen a steep 60 percent increase in the last five years. The expenditure saw a 40 percent jump from 2018 to 2023 end.