President’s Office has revealed that Vice President Faisal Naseem’s trip to the US had cost the state coffers MVR 4.4 million (US$ 286,462.70).
VP Faisal Naseem was in the US from the 1st to the 8th of May to take part in the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNPGA) high-level thematic debate on "Putting sustainable and resilient tourism at the heart of an inclusive recovery." The event was sparsely received, with VP Faisal giving his address to nearly empty General Assembly Hall.
TMJ had appealed to the President’s Office to release details of the trip under the right to information act.
President’s Office revealed that the whole trip had cost MVR 4.4 million (US$ 286,462.70).
Details of the trip
- Pocket money: MVR 147,264 (US$ 9,587.65)
- Food: MVR 253,819.86 (US$ 16,524.98)
- Accommodation and transportation: MVR 1,473,830.31 (US$ 95,953.96)
- Tickets: MVR 2,450,762.28 (US$ 159,557.27)
- Incidental and other expenses: MVR 81,200.73 (US$ 5,286.59)
- Total: MVR 4,406,877.18 (US$ 286,910.44)
Videographer, photographer included in contingent
Twelve individuals made the contingent to the US. This included a photographer, videographer, and Deputy Communications Director – all from the President’s Office.
- The contingent includes;
- 1. Vice President Faisal Naseem
- 2. Second Lady Aishath Shamsaadhaa
- 3. Foreign Secretary Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed
- 4. Chief Executive to the Vice President Nazra Naseem
- 5. Chief of Protocol Shan Shakir
- 6. Deputy Director General at President’s Office Aishath Shaheena
- 7. Deputy Communications Director at President’s Office Ahmed Nafeel
- 8. Assistant Director at President’s Office Mariyam Nadheema
- 9. Foreign Relations Officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Maaiz
- 10. Protocol Officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shafraz Rasheed
- 11. Photographer at President’s Office Mohamed Sharhaan Waheed
- 12. Videographer at President’s Office Afsheen Naseer
Tourism Minister Dr Abdullah Mausoom and other senior figures at the Ministry went on this trip as well. However, their expenses were listed under the Tourism Ministry and therefore, was not part of President’s Office disclosure. But it is expected that the Tourism Ministry’s expenses would also be in the same ballpark.
The extravagant amount was spent at a time when the country is still attempting to recover from the impacts of the global recession and covid-19 pandemic. In his last press conference, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih remained optimistic about the economic outlook. That day, he said that he had no plans to cap the number of political appointees and expenses on those positions, as part of cost cutting measures.