It has been revealed that Defence Minister Mariya Didi flew first class to attend the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi held from February 20-24. The cost of her ticket alone was MVR 66,321, which is significantly higher than the cost of a business class ticket offered by Abu Dhabi's national carrier.
Brigadier General Abdul Matheen Ahmed and Colonel Hassan Buhsry also accompanied Mariya on the trip, and their tickets cost MVR 51,502. The trio also spent $720 in their pocket money. It is important to note that while the Maldivian economy is in a dire state, government officials continue to travel first class across the world.
This revelation has caused uproar among citizens who are struggling to make ends meet due to the economic crisis. In February, the finance ministry issued a circular asking the government to reduce its expenditure, but it seems that ministers are not adhering to it.
This year, MVR 210.2 million has been budgeted for travel, while the government has already spent MVR 45 million on travel so far. The exorbitant expenses on first-class travel have raised questions about the government's priorities and their commitment to reviving the economy.
While some defend the first-class travel expenses by stating that it is necessary for officials to attend important conferences and meetings, others argue that there are more cost-effective ways to do so. The government officials should set an example by reducing their travel expenses and finding more affordable alternatives.