State expenditure on COVID-19 response hits MVR 560 million

State expenditure on COVID-19 response hits MVR 560 million

The state, on Sunday night, confirmed that a total of MVR 560 million was spent over the COVID-19 outbreak in Maldives till April 25.

Speaking at the press briefing held by National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), President's Office's Undersecretary Mabrouq Abdul Azeez provided details on state expenditure in the government's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Mabrouq, MVR 84 million out of the total MVR 560 million was funneled to the Disaster Trust Fund to procure staple food for a 10-month period. He stated that the funds will be utilised by State Trading Organisation (STO).

"STO will have to replace these funds after selling the staple foods", Mabrouq added.

Another MVR 11 million was placed in the Tourism Trust Fund while MVR 6.3 million was spent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to repatriate Maldivian nationals.

Mabrouq also disclosed that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Health utilised MVR 384 million to procure medical supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other items required for treatment, in addition to covering NEOC's operational costs.

Moreover, MVR 34 million was used to established a medical facility in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale', out of which MVR 16.4 million was spent on civil work and MVR 19.5 million on medical supplies.

Mabrouq also revealed that the state spent a total of MVR 6.3 million in developing the Farukolhufushi Isolation Facility, which was completed in two phases.

In addition, the establishment of Intensive Care Units in five areas across the country cost MVR 27 million.

Referring to Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer's statement delivered on Saturday, Mabrouq stated that if the current situation persists, the government estimates that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic may cost MVR 1.4 billion.

"That is not the amount that has been spent so far", Mabrouq clarified.

As a measure to counter the COVID-19 economic slowdown, the parliament on Sunday approved the suspension of the Fiscal Responsibility Act provisions for a one-year period, allowing the government to borrow MVR 4.2 billion from the central bank to regulate cash flow.

Maldives has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since its first confirmed case in the capital city of Male' on April 15 involving a local woman that sought assistance from a flu clinic in Malé after developing symptoms.

The country now records 214 positive, two probable and 198 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 16 recoveries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 2.99 million people and claimed over 206,990 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 878,900 people have recovered.