The government-funded travel expenses of the Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid who is also the President of the United Nations General Assembly for its 76th Session.
TMJ has learned through reliable sources that while residing in New York, USA, Shahid traveled to multiple international destinations with Maldivian government-allocated funds, which strictly goes against “The Public Finance Act”.
Although Shahid had traveled under the title of President for the UNGA, the foreign ministry notified the Ministry of Finance that he was traveling on behalf of the government as its foreign minister. Moreover, the administration claimed that even though on these trips he bore his United Nations title, Minister Shahid had conducted discussions on behalf of the state, therefore requiring state funding.
The expenses for Shahid's trip to Palau for an ocean conference held during 13th and 14th April this year was mostly taken care of by the Maldivian government.
The payment request sent from the Foreign Ministry to the Ministry of Finance stated that Shahid’s travel to the ocean conference as the President of the UNGA requires a three day layover in UAE between 6th -9th April, to discuss funding for Maafaru Airport with Abu Dhabi Fund for Development as requested by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Foreign ministry had requested to fund his and his bodyguard’s travel from New York to UAE in addition to accommodation in UAE for the three day. The state had allocated MVR 286,750 for this trip.
Even though the ministry had feigned a meeting with Abu Dhabi fund, it remains unclear whether or not this meeting had occurred. Although the minister updates religiously on social platforms upon meeting with notable members of the global society, his Tweets during those three days do not reflect anything of note.
Senior official at the Foreign Ministry told TMJ that most of Shahid’s travels as President of UNGA have been conducted in this manner. The official said that while he is on UNGA business, he “turns into foreign minister for a portion of that time”, then it was the government’s turn to take responsibility for the expenses.
The Presidency of UNGA is not a salaried post of the United Nations. Therefore, all of the expenses of the person occupying the post shall be borne by their nation.
Although Shahid's one year term with the UNGA has expired, the government has yet to reveal what was spent on him during that time. However, it is estimated that the state must have expended millions of Maldivian Rufiyaa from the budget to fund Shahid’s travel and other expenses.