Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad yesterday stressed that after the Maldives was placed in the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), government had hired UK's ex-Attorney General Baroness Scotland to provide legal expertise for GBP7,500 per day in accordance with the Finance Act.
Jihad told Haveeru that the ex-AG had been hired after seeking the necessary approvals from the Finance Ministry. He added that hiring a person for special expertise does not prompt an employment announcement.
A total of GBP75,000 (MVR1.82 million) had been paid to the Baroness from the budget of the Attorney General’s office.
Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor assured that the amount had been expended legally and under the allotted budget code.
“The expense has been incurred under the budget of the Attorney General’s office. A code has been included in the budget to obtain outside expertise in relation to various cases involving Maldives in foreign courts, cases where legal technicalities are entailed in dealings with foreign bodies and instances where we need to find out the constitutional or rule of law of say CMAG or the Commonwealth. The expense was duly covered from that budget code,” Azima detailed.
Member of the Parliament’s Finance Committee and Hulhumeedhoo constituency MP Ilyas Labeeb has forwarded the issue of the expense on Baroness Scotland to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
A statement by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) detailed that the issue had been filed with the ACC as the expense had been not been sanctioned in this year’s approved budget and hence was a violation of the Finance Act and the financial regulation.