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Maldives News Bulletin, 22-06-2008
Issue No: 1157

President Gayoom and Madam Nasreena meets with the Sri Lankan President Mahindha Rajapaksa and Madam Rajapaksa

15th June: President Gayoom and Madam Nasreena yesterday met with the Sri Lankan President, Mr Mahindha Rajapaksa and Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa. During the meeting, the President thanked the Sri Lankan President, the government and the people of Sri Lanka on the generous hospitality extended to him on this visit. President Rajapaksa expressed his happiness on President Gayoom and Madam Nasreena's visit to Sri Lanka to attend the final match of the 5th SAFF championship. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, Mr. Abdulla Shahid and the Foreign Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Rohitha Bogologama.

 

"The players and officials of the National Team and everyone who contributed to the country's victory will go down in history as national heroes": the President

16th June: The victorious Maldives National Football Team returned to Male' this evening to a festive welcome lead by the President.  Members of the public came out in their thousands to welcome the team, transforming Male' City into a carnival of red. The team flew from Sri Lanka in a special Island Aviation's flight. They were personally greeted by the President. Team Captain Assad Abdul Ghanee presented the glittering SAFF Championship trophy to the President. They were then greeted by members of the Cabinet, Senior official and thousands of loving fans. The team travelled from the Airport to Male' on a specially decorated boat of the MNDF. They were accompanied by the President. On arrival in Male' they were greeted by the President of the Male' Municipality and Senior Ward functionaries. Thousands more hysterical fans filled the Republic Square to witness the beginning of the team's ticker-tape parade on the streets of Male'. Members of the public, both old and young, proudly waved national flags as the team paraded the trophy and the winners' medals on the specially decorated lorry. The parade concluded at the National Stadium, which was jam-packed with spectators in red. After greeting the fans, members of the team were chauffeur-driven to their respective homes in specially-decorated sports cars. At the VIP lounge of the Airport, the players and officials each were presented with 200,000 RF cash prizes by the Government. The presentations were made by the President. Speaking to the press after receiving the National Team, the President described them as national heroes. "The players and officials of the national team and everyone who contributed to the country's victory will go down in history as national heroes", he said. The President, who returned to Male' yesterday after witnessing the Maldives' historic win over India, in the final of this SAFF Championship held in Sugathadhasa Stadium in Sri Lanka, he said that football had united the nation to never-before-seen levels. "It was all patriotism. National pride. Passion, love and commitment towards a national Endeavour. There was no partisan party politics involved at all" he noted. Highlighting that, football had united the people at an important juncture in the country's history; the President said that the team had presented the people with an opportunity 'on a platter lined in gold'. The President highlighted that the trophy will be toured across the country. "The trophy will now move to every single inhabited island", he added.

Political Parties Bill to be submitted to Majlis this month – Ministry

15th June: Political Parties Bill will be submitted to People's Majlis sometime this month Legal Reform Ministry has revealed. According to the Update on the Reform Process issued every Thursday the Bill will be sent to the Majlis after receiving comments from all concerned agencies and after due deliberations. Legal Reform Ministry informed that comments have been received for the draft Political Parties Bill from Maldives Human Rights Commission, Commissioner of Elections Office, Maldivian National Congress Adhaalath Party and NGO Rights for All. According to Legal Reform Ministry these comments will now be discussed with stakeholders and will be incorporated in to the Bill after consultation with Core Group of Parliamentarians (CGP). The draft Political Parties Bill defines among the important revisions, process for political party formation, party registration process, and the code of ethics. Political Parties were legalized in the country by a presidential decree in 2005.All political parties operating in the country must conform to regulations formed under the decree. The implementation and enforcement of political party regulation is handled by Commissioner of Elections.


STO to maintain oil prices at a minimum

15th June: Chief Executive officer of State Trading Organization (STO) Ahmed Mohamed has said that the company will make every effort to maintain fuel oil prices at a minimum. CEO Ahmed Mohamed made the statement in his message given to the company's Annual Report 2007. In his message CEO highlighted three major challenges faced with STO in business development and delivery of essential shareholder and customer satisfaction. In this regard, first on list of challenges are the escalating international fuel oil prices. The second challenge noted by STO CEO is the increasing food prices in the world market and the third is inflationary pressures on goods and services in the country.  CEO said that STO will face these challenges head on. He said while trying to keep local fuel prices as low as possible, the company will invest in renewable energy sources as well as make strategic interventions where necessary in the local food market to make food prices affordable to the public. Speaking on the capacity of the company's new CEO Ahmed Mohamed said his immediate top priorities will be to sustain annual positive growth, encourage team work and achieve the company's Vision for year 2014. He said since the company was established in 1964, the company had never recorded a never a negative net profit. As such the top business priority of STO will be to sustain annual positive growth and continuously increase shareholder value. CEO said in order to achieve this STO will improve corporate governance, diversify the business portfolio in to high return investments, strengthen the company's footing in international trade and walk new routes. CEO Ahmed Mohamed noted that despite the challenges the company faced in 2007, the company has recorded a growth of 3%. CEO further expressed his firm commitment to achieve Vision 2014 and his desire to make STO the most successful and most efficiently managed multinational company in Maldives.


Indo Maldives customs holds discussions on preventing drug smuggling

16th June: Maldives Customs has held discussions with Indian Customs on preventing drug smuggling into Maldives. The discussions between the two countries were held in Male' last Thursday. At the meeting discussions were held on the agreement signed between both countries in 1999 on collaboration between the customs of the two countries. Further discussions were held on ways of improving relations between the customs of two countries as well as seeking training opportunities to Maldivian customs officers in India. According to press release issued by Maldivian customs the discussions were attended by Board member of Central Board of Exercise and Customs BK Guptha and Director General of Revenue Intelligence.


The 5th SAARC orthopedic conference begins

16th June: The fifth conference of the SAARC orthopedic association commenced in Male' yesterday. The inaugural ceremony was held at Dharubaaruge yesterday morning and was inaugurated by Minister of Health Ilyas Ibrahim. More than 200 delegates from SAARC member countries as well as from non SAARC countries is taking part in the conference. In his address to the inaugural session Health Minister Ilyas called for more medical conferences to be hosted in Maldives. He said such conferences will be of great benefit to the health sector of the country and called on all concerned to make the best use of the opportunity. The conference which is also being attended by top orthopedic doctors and surgeons from non SAARC countries like China, France and New Zealand was also addressed by the President of Maldives orthopedic Association Dr. Mohamed Habeeb. In his address Dr. Habeeb said it was his long standing dream to host the SAARC Ortho Conference in Maldives and that to see it being realized was one of most memorable moments of his life. He said when it was decided in the conference held in 2006 to have the conference in Maldives he had doubts whether Maldives could host such a conference. He said the main reason for this was that in 2006 he was only ortho doctor in Maldives. "We know Maldives is a small country with a small population, but that is not an excuse to disregard our responsibilities or a an excuse to avoid taking up the challenges we have to face, we may be a small nation in size and population but in terms of our skills and our thinking we are a formidable nation, when I agreed to host the conference in 2006, I knew that I would get the collaboration and support of the government and friends" said Dr. Habeeb the Maldives first ortho doctor. Dr. Habeeb said despite Maldives have only 3 ortho doctors he hoped to achieve a huge success in the field. Dr. Habeeb expressed hope that the conference will pave way for such success. Dr. Habeeb who is to take over as the President of SAARC Orthopedic Association further said under his presidency the association would raise to great heights. The 5 th SAARC Conference is to continue in Bandos Island Resort. At the conference information on various orthopedic diseases will be shared.


ADK Hospital gains membership of International Hospital Federation

16th June: ADK Hospital is now a member of International Hospital Federation. ADK Hospital is the first hospital in Maldives to obtain membership of the federation. According to Managing Director of ADK Hospital Ahmed Afaal the main objective in getting the membership of the International Hospital Federation was to provide a safe and secure environment for customers as well as to quality of services provided by the hospital. He said he applied for membership sometime last year. He said being a member would give them access to the Federations resources and would receive up to date information on efficient ways of managing hospitals. He said the hospital would also receive Journals of the Federation. MD Afaal informed that Federations membership will facilitate easy participation in the Federation meetings. He said the primary objective of the Federation is to raise the standards of world hospitals and that assistance from the Federation will be sought in raising the standard of ADK Hospital. Founded in 1929 with a membership encompassing national hospital associations, government health ministries and other health institutions and individuals in over 100 countries; responsible for around 50,000 hospital facilities and the welfare of more than 3 billion people.


Work at Policy Level Required to Tackle Economic Challenges

17th June: The economic challenges that the Maldives is facing currently can be addressed only by working at policy levels, an expert group engaged in economic research has revealed. The experts who spoke at a forum organized by the Open Society on the topic "Economic Challenges – What's the solution?" said that it was rather difficult to address the economic issues at the policy level. Adam Manik, the former Deputy Finance Minister who spoke at the forum stated that when he was in office he did a lot of work to find a solution for economic problems at the policy level but had failed in his many attempts as the economic policies were based on strategic frameworks set out by the leading figures of the government. The high inflation rates currently being experienced by the country is a matter of great concern as revealed by the members in the forum and it was pointed out that the uncontrolled and skyrocketing prices of daily goods is a sign of a failing economic policy. As the participants stated the economy of the Maldives is under the control of a handful of businessmen. A participant said while speaking at the forum that the Maldivian economy resembled a football match between Villa Shipping and Trading Company and State Trading Organization. In the forum a participant also concluded that in the Maldives, the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. The fact that the tax system currently in place does not differentiate between the affordable lot and the less privileged was noted as a matter of concern and the participants called for a tax system that reflects the affordability of the target segments. The speakers at the forum noted that the Maldivian economy is affected by the current political situation and called for the government to improve the political situation and stated that the country's economic turmoil was a result of government's failure to take appropriate corrective measures. The expert group at the forum consisted of former Deputy Finance Minister Maizaan Adam Manik, Ali Hashim, Mohamed Waheed and the Executive Editor of Haveeru Daily Hirigaa Zahir.


Justice Minister says stern action will be taken against corrupt judges

18th June: Justice Minster Mohamed Muiz Adnan has said that if evidence on corrupt Judges is submitted the matter will be looked in to very seriously. Justice Minister made the statement in response to a question posed by an MP during the question time of the Majlis session held yesterday. Justice Minister said he will not hesitate to take action against corrupt Judges who accept bribes to divert the cause of justice provided such allegations can be proven. Minister Muiz noted the need to establish a strong constitutional frame work to hold Judges and other officials of the judiciary accountable. "There is no law which specify how and when to assume responsibility and how much to be assumed" Justice Minister said. Calling for a law to hold Judges accountable, Justice Minister Muiz noted that many point fingers at the Judges depending on the verdict handed out. Minister informed that delays in court hearings are mostly due to lack of adequate judges. He also said sometimes delays are also due to Judges taking leave or going abroad. He also said Judges must bear the responsibility for delays which has no reasonable excuse.
 

Minister Nasheed expresses regret over failure of Newspaper bill

18th June: Minister of legal Reform Information and Arts Mohamed Nasheed has expressed regrets over the failure of the Bill on Registration and Publication of Newspapers from becoming law. At the Majlis session held yesterday the Bill failed to become law by want of just one vote. 25 members out of 30 members present voted in favor of the Bill. One member voted against the Bill while 4 members abstained. A statement issued by Information Ministry yesterday declared that the objective of the Newspaper Bill which was sent to the Majlis in 2006 was to facilitate easier, modern and stronger constitutional framework for registration and publication of newspapers. The statement expressed dismay at the failure of the Bill especially after being debated on at 4 Majlis sittings, discussed at 12 sessions of Social Affairs Committee with 2 amendments incorporated. In this regard the statement noted that a lot of man hours go in to the design, prepare, research, debate, improve, and defend the Bill and that parliament as an institution spend a lot of time, money and energy on the bill. Further the statement expressed regret see a non-contentious bill, which has no apparent controversies, get killed merely due to poor attendance or lack of interest in the process. At yesterdays sitting 6 amendments proposed by Male' MP Ibrahim Ismail was also rejected. The amendment proposed by GDH MP Abbas Ibrahim was passed and amendment proposed by President's member Mohamed Saleem was also passed. The bill on Registration and Publication of newspapers was part of the media pack of laws proposed in 2006 and was accepted by Majlis last year after significant debate. It had undergone substantial improvement and refinement thereafter in the parliamentary standing committee on social affairs. According to the information Ministry's statement issued yesterday work to make the bill in to law will be continued and that it will soon be sent to Majlis.


MTCC awards 45 Rufiyaa as dividends for each equity share

18th June: Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) have revealed that the company will award Rf.45 as dividends for each equity share. MTCC revealed this after the Annual General Meeting of the company held yesterday night. MTCC reported a profit of 37.1 Million Rufiyaa for year 2007, this is 3.83 Million less than what the company earned in 2006. In 2006 MTCC earned a profit of 40.93 Million Rufiyaa. In 2006, MTCC awarded Rf35 as dividend to every share. Speaking at the Annual General meeting MTTC's Chairperson Dr. Fathin Hameed said the company is poised to make better profits in future despite lowly profits in 2007. At the meeting names of the government appointed Directors were revealed. The Directors were Ibrahim Shaheen of G. Mehura and Mohamed Shainee of G. Rose beam. 2 Directors were also elected by the share holders to the company's board. They were Ameen Ibrahim of H. Haali and Ibrahim Muthalib of Ma. Sumit. Further at yesterday night's meeting the 2007 company report by the Board Directors and Balance Sheet and Audit Report on Profit and Loses was also passed. Some 33 shareholders attended the general meeting and 330 proxies were submitted by 9 people.


Auditor General commence audit of Maldives Police Services

18th June: Maldives Police Services has revealed that Commissioner of Police Adam Zahir has met with the Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem yesterday. According to Police the meeting took place at Police Headquarters located at Shaheedh Hussain Adam Building. The meeting was also attended by the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police Abdu-Shukoor Abdullah, the Assistant Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh and several senior officers of the Police, and Assistant Director General of the Audit Office Ibrahim Naeem and other senior members of the Audit Office, Police reports. In the meeting held to officially commence the audit of the finances and records of Maldives Police Service, the Auditor General also briefed the Commissioner on the audit process. At the meeting Commissioner of Police spoke on the education and training given to Police officers to make the finances and records transparent. The meeting also gave the opportunity for the officials to discuss training that can be given to the Police Internal Audit team with the assistance of the Audit Office.

 

The Cabinet recommends to the President to ratify the new Charter of the OIC and agreements on establishing a SAARC Food Bank and a South Asian University

19th June: The Cabinet today recommended to the President to ratify the new Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and agreements on establishing a SAARC Food Bank and a South Asian University. The recommendation was made after the Cabinet deliberated a paper prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The new Charter was adopted at the March 2007 OIC Foreign Ministers meeting in Senegal.  The new Charter aims to reform the Organization to effectively address contemporary challenges facing the Arab and Muslim world. The Foreign Ministers of the eight member countries of SAARC signed the agreements on establishing a SAARC Food Bank and a South Asian University at the 14th SAARC Summit held in India in April of 2007. In today's meeting, the President briefed the Cabinet on his visit to the UK to attend the Representative group of Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting on Reform of International Institutions. He also noted the bilateral discussions with British Government officials including meetings with the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Mark Malloch Brown and the British Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change, Mr. John Ashton. On this topic the President also recalled his attendance at the Annual General Meeting of the British-Maldives All Party Parliamentary Group in the Westminster Hall of the House of Parliament. The President noted that en-route to Male' from the UK, he stopped- over in Colombo to watch the final match of the SAFF Championship. He spoke on the jubilant scene following Maldives' historic victory over India.


Import duty system makes the rich richer and the poor poorer – Jaleel

19th June:  Minister for Trade and Economic Development Mohamed Jaleel has declared that the current import duty system is a system which continuously makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Minister Jaleel made the statement speaking at the People's Majlis yesterday morning. Speaking at the Majlis, Minister Jaleel noted that the current import duty system is not suited for a modern economy and that the system has always been directed at the national budget. He further called on to abolish the system and urged the Majlis to establish a strong constitutionally empowered tax system. He said to establish such a system in Maldives would not be difficult and can be done within 6 months. Minister Jaleel also said Maldives was one of the few countries that do not have a proper tax system. Criticizing the current import duty system Minister Jaleel said that the system in addition to being the cause for several social and economic disputes also fuels many political disputes. Minister also noted the system paves way for corruption. "Prices of goods rise for many reasons, it includes costs involved in offloading of goods, costs involved in warehousing and high charges of warehouses, shops and apartments; the prices of goods in this country do not necessarily depend on the prices the merchants gets them, sometimes duties are levied differently for the same goods under two different invoices" Minister Jaleel said providing answers to members. Answering a question from members on the economic challenges the country faces Minister said that it was imperative to work at a policy level to address these challenges. He said a transparent tax system would be the best option. Minister Jaleel also warned that country will be at a great disadvantage if necessary economic reform is not implemented along with the ongoing political and legal reform.


"The nationwide celebrations following the SAFF Championship was the biggest and most colorful in the country's recent history", says the President

20th June: The President last night said that the nationwide celebration following the SAFF Championship was the biggest and most colorful in the country's recent history. The President made the statement while speaking at the dinner held in honor of the Maldives' National Football Team. In his speech, the President said that the National Team has brought great honor and glory to this nation. He also said that the national side has proven that they are the best in the region by winning the SAFF Championship this year. He further said that the jubilant celebrations of the supporters have showed the great unity and fraternity among Maldivians. The President urged the National Team to retain this trophy in the years to come and assured that the Government will assist and support with various ways to ensure success of the team in future. The President thanked the First Division Football Clubs, for their continuous support and cooperation in preparing the players for the National Football Team. He also urged the other sports Associations, clubs and players to follow the success of the National Football Team and work hard to attain success and glory in their sports. The President sincerely thanked the coach of the National Football Team, Mr. Jozef Jankech for his outstanding contribution to the team's success. The Chairman of F. A. M's Interim Committee, Mr. Ahmed Shahir also spoke at the meeting.


The President departs for Geneva to attend "The Human Face of Climate Change" meeting

21st June: The President departs for Geneva tonight to attend the Global Humanitarian Forum's Annual Meeting 2008, "The Human Face of Climate Change", to be held in Geneva, on the 24th and 25th of this month. The President is attending the meeting on the invitation of the Forum's President, Former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. The Global Humanitarian Forum is a newly founded NGO by the Swiss government and a group of senior leaders from the academic, business, government, international and civil society.

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