The President’s Office has announced a new policy for disclosing expenditures related to official trips made by President Dr Mohamed Muizzu. This announcement, posted on the office’s official social media channels, states that details of the expenses incurred during official visits will be made public within 15 days following the conclusion of each trip.

The policy comes amidst heightened scrutiny of state spending on presidential travels. Statistics released for previous years under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration revealed substantial expenditures. In 2021 alone, over a million US dollars were spent on both foreign and local trips by President Solih, raising concerns about the scale and transparency of such expenses.

The breakdown of these expenses included significant costs for international travels to destinations like Qatar, Bangladesh, New York for the UN General Assembly, Dubai Expo 2020, Glasgow’s COP26 summit, and a trip to Sri Lanka. In addition to the foreign visits, local trips within the Maldives also contributed significantly to the overall travel expenses, with the total figure for 2021 reaching approximately US$ 1,092,182.98.

With the new policy, President Muizzu’s administration seems to be responding to public calls for greater accountability in governmental spending. By committing to disclose the travel expenses within a 15-day window, the President’s Office aims to foster a culture of transparency and responsible governance.

This move is expected to set a new precedent in the Maldives, promoting openness and enabling the public to scrutinise and understand how state funds are utilised in the conduct of official duties. It marks a significant shift from previous practices, where details of such expenditures were often not as promptly or readily available.

The initiative is in line with global trends towards greater transparency in governance, particularly in the utilisation of public funds. It underscores the importance of accountability in public office and is likely to be welcomed by citizens and governance watchdogs alike.

President Muizzu is currently on his maiden trip abroad where he is in Dubai for the UN Climate Conference following an official trip to Türkiye. The timely disclosure of trip expenditures will not only inform the public but also serve as a check on the government’s spending, ensuring that public resources are used effectively and judiciously.

The President’s Office has not yet commented on whether this policy will be retroactively applied to past travels or if it strictly pertains to future trips.