The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of the Maldives has declared that the disbursement of public funds by the President's Office to various media outlets does not constitute corruption. This decision was made nine months after a private individual filed a complaint with the ACC regarding the matter.
The individual had requested the Commission to review the case, claiming that the disbursement of funds had violated financial regulations and granted undue benefits to the government and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The President's Office is said to have spent millions of dollars on several media houses in the past two years to promote their initiatives.
The ACC informed that an investigation was underway, however, the commission cleared the spending stating that it does not amount to corruption. Meanwhile, most of the major media outlets in the country are on the government's payroll, often promoting the government and failing to report on various corruption cases.
The financial regulation requires obtaining price quotations from at least three contractors before disbursing public funds. The regulation only permits this process if the total price of the contract does not exceed MVR 35,000 (US$ 2,265.97). However, in this case, most of the contracts were made at a price of MVR 50,000 (US$ 3237.09), clearly violating the regulation.
This decision by the ACC has raised concerns among the public regarding media freedom and the role of the government in shaping the country's media landscape.