Monday 15th Apr 2024
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Maldives Government Blames Rise in Expenses for World Cup Trip on Qatar Hotel Prices

New details have emerged regarding the MVR 997,743 trip taken by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, First Lady Fazna Ahmed, and other senior government officials to Qatar to watch the FIFA World Cup semi-final match in November and December last year. According to the President's Office, the cost of the trip was borne by the Government of Maldives and included expenses such as pocket money, incidental costs, stay and dinner expenses, and ticket expenses..
In response to a request made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by The Maldives Journal, the breakdown of expenses provided by the President's Office revealed that the cost of the trip included MVR 150,822 for pocket money, MVR 76,950 for incidental costs, MVR 414,555.70 for stay and dinner expenses, and MVR 355,415.58 for ticket expenses.
The President's Office had earlier claimed that President Solih had visited Qatar at the invitation of the country's emir, and that other expenses, other than tickets, would be borne by the Qatari government. However, the information released by the President's Office contradicts this claim.
President Solih's spokesperson, Miuvaan Mohammed, stated that the expenses increased due to the rise in hotel prices in Qatar and that the cost incurred was for the president's security. He also claimed that the President spent for his ticket on his own. However, it should be noted that the government had claimed that the President went to Qatar on an invitation from the Qatari emir.
The revelation of the cost of the trip has raised questions about the government's spending on such trips, especially given that the President's Office had allocated MVR 4 million for the visit. President Solih has traveled around the world since assuming office, and the only two continents he has not visited while in office are South America and Australia. In an earlier interview, he expressed his fondness for traveling.
Last year, the President spent over MVR 3 million on a trip to the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The government's spending on such trips has been criticized by some, who argue that the money could be better spent on improving public services and infrastructure