Statistics published by the President’s Office has shown that in 2021, expenses incurred as a result of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s foreign and local trips had topped over a million US dollars.
The statistics were published when TMJ’s sister paper Dhiyares had requested for the information under the Right to Information Act.
In 2021, President Solih, in his official capacity as the President, made four international trips and eight local trips.
Four trips price tag over a million dollars
In 2021, President Solih was in Qatar and Bangladesh from March 14th to the 21st. For this trip, the price tag was MVR 3.08 million (US$ 199,151.29). As such, MVR 325,571.40 (US$ 21,051.29) was incurred as pocket money and incidental expenses. Food and stay amounted to MVR 566,865.52 (US$ 36,653.25), while a whopping MVR 2.1 million (US$ 135,784.97) was spent on tickets. Additionally, the first couple had run up a tab of MVR 5.3 million (US$ 342,695.40) to attend the UN General Assembly in New York, from the 18th to the 29th of September 2021.
Stay and food amounted to MVR 2.4 million (US$ 155,182.82) and tickets cost MVR 2.3 million (US$ 148,716.87). MVR 313,949 (US$ 20,299.79) was incurred as transportation costs, while an additional MVR 2787,588.44 (US$ 180,244.10) was tagged as pocket money and incidental costs.
Trips to Dubai Expo 2020 and Glasgow’s COP26 summit cost the state another MVR 7.2 million (US$ 465,548.47). The President left the Maldives on 24th October and returned back on November 3rd. Breaking down these expenses for Dubai, we can see that MVR 769,087.08 (US$ 49,728.79) was spent as pocket money and incidental expenses. Food and stay cost MVR 2.5 million (US$ 161,648.77) and a reception hosted for Maldivians in Dubai cost MVR 139,485.16 (US$ 9,019.04). Transportation cost another MVR 837,537.05 (US$ 54,154.74), while tickets amounted to MVR 2.9 million (US$ 187,512.58).
President Salih then traveled to Sri Lanka to inaugurate the Four Nations Football tournament. A total of MVR 447,871.56 (US$ 28,959.16) was spent on this trip. Tickets cost MVR 224,839.02 (US$ 14,537.98), while MVR 179,654.05 (US$ 11,616.34) was tagged as pocket money and incidental expenses. Food and stay cost MVR 43,378.49 (US$ 2,804.83).
In summation, we can see that a total of MVR 7.6 million (US$ 491,412.28) was spent on tickets for international travel alone. MVR 5.5 million (US$ 355,627.30) was spent on food and stay. As such, we can see that last year alone, MVR 16,109,475.50 (US$ 1,041,630.79).
Internal trips cost over MVR 700,000
Dhiyares had also asked the President’s Office to provide expenditure details for local trips conducted in 2021.
As such, a two-day trip to Kulhudhuffushi City cost state coffers MVR 233,383.65 (US$ 15,090.47). Land travel cost MVR 66,216.65 (US$ 4,281.54), while launch hires cost MVR 8,700 (US$ 465.55). Tickets to the destination were pegged at MVR 77,910 (US$ 5,037.62). An additional MVR 80,557 (US$ 5,208.78) was tagged as food and stay expenditures.
Another two-day trip to Thaa Atoll in August cost the state coffers a total of MVR 159,813 (US$ 10,333.43). In this trip, food cost MVR 48,258.04 (US$ 3,120.34). Launch hire was at MVR 31,799 (US$ 2,056.11) while MVR 66,780 (US$ 4,317.96) was spent for tickets, and MVR 13,075 (US$ 845.42) was spent as land travel.
A three-day trip to the Raa atoll in September cost MVR 113,090 (US$ 7,312.34). Another three-day trip to Thaa Atoll in October cost MVR 111,856 (US$ 7,232.55), while an additional two-day trip to Kulhudhuffushi City in October cost MVR 91,055 (US$ 5,887.57).
MVR 30,950 (US$ 2,001.21) alone was incurred when the President attended the official ceremony to mark Fishermen’s Day held in Gaafaru island in Kaafu atoll. He also visited Maafushi Island in Kaafu Atoll, adding another MVR 7,891 (MVR 510.23) to the travel bill.
In summary, in 2021, President’s Office had spent MVR 16,891,296.9 (US$ 1,092,182.98) solely on travel.
The Presidential Delegation
The President’s Office noted that these figures were based on what the Office spent on the President and individuals who had traveled to those destinations as part of the President’s official delegation. These figures were solely that of how much the Office had spent and does not include expenses incurred by delegates from other Ministries.
President Solih’s delegation is usually large, with the numbers usually passing double digits.
As such, the delegation to New York consisted of 15 persons, while the Dubai Expo delegation was 19 persons. Seventeen individuals went as part of the Glasgow delegation, while 13 went to Sri Lanka. Qatar and Bangladesh delegation amounted to 20.
The delegation for atoll trips were even more. The Maafushi delegation amounted to 42, while the delegation to Gaafaru was 27. The October trip to Kulhudhuffushi carried 25 as delegates, while Alif Alif Atoll delegation was comprised of 29 individuals. Thaa Atoll delegation had 27 delegates, while Shaviyani atoll trop had 35 individuals as official delegation. The second trip to Thaa Atoll had 22 delegates. On the visit to HDh Atoll, 29 individuals accompanied the President.
These figures are solely that of the delegates attached with the President’s Office. Other Ministries and agencies sent in more delegates.
In the 2018 campaign, speaking to RaajjeTV President Solih did say that his hobby was travelling. The only pause to the President’s travels occurred during the Covid lockdown. In addition to official trips, the President makes frequent private travels as well.