State expenditure on COVID-19 response reach MVR 814 million

Ministry of Finance on Monday revealed that the state's total expenditure on COVID-19 response has reached MVR 814.2 million, as of May 11.

According to finance ministry’s public records, government expenditure rose by 22.4 percent compared to the week before. Records from last week showed that government spending on COVID-19 response stood at MVR 665 million. In just a week’s time, government spending increased by MVR 147 million.

As per expenditure breakdowns, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Ministry of Health, the two main authorities mandated with the prevention and management of COVID-19, contributed to 91.5 percent of all spending. Figures show that the NDMA spent a total of MVR 525 million, while the health ministry recorded a total expenditure of MVR 136 million.

Records show that, till date, Ministry of National Planning utilized MVR 28 million, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) spent MVR 6 million, Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported spending MVR 3.5 million, while National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) recorded MVR 2.9 million in expenses.

Additional COVID-19 response related expenditure include MVR 600,000 by Maldives Police Service, MVR 100,000 by Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and MVR 200,000 each by the Immigration Department and Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services.

Spending from Trust Funds include MVR 24 million from Tourism Activities Implementation Fund, MVR 84 million from the Disaster Management Fund, and MVR 3 million from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs’ Zakat Fund.

This week’s increment is primarily linked to the increased spending by NDMA on medical equipment and the national medical emergency stockpile. Ministry of Health allocated a bulk of expenditure towards procurement of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

In terms of overall spending till date, a total of MVR 390 million was spent on "supplies and requisites for service provision” including spendings on medical consumables, test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and MVR 188 million on “capital spending and equipment” including spendings on COVID-19 related equipment such as ventilators and hospital beds in medical facilities and isolation centers. Further, MVR 111 million was spent on “grants, contributions and subsidies” as direct assistance to those in need, and spending from the Disaster Management Fund to stock up staple food.

On Monday last week, the government for the first time publicized details of government expenditure on COVID-19 response. Finance ministry has since decided to provide weekly expenditure updates every Monday.

Government estimates show that COVID-19 related health expenditure will rise to MVR 3.3 billion. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to implement several cost-cutting measures including temporary halts in infrastructure projects to reduce state spending.

Maldives now records total 897 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 863 active cases, three fatalities and a total of 31 recoveries. Capital city Malé, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 since it recorded its first local transmission of the virus on April 15.

On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 4.27 million people and claimed over 287,500 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.53 million people have recovered.