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Maldives News Bulletin, 13-07-2008
Issue No: 1160

MHTE 2008 to commence on 15 July

6th July: The official exhibition of Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI), the Maldives Hotel & Trade Exhibition (MHTE 2008) is to commence on the 15 of this month MNCCI has revealed.

According to MCCI, the event is being organized by Artline Design Services Pvt. Ltd and will be held from 15, 16, and 17 of this month at Dharubaaruge.

Speaking to Miadhu Daily, Manager Sales of Artline said that the exhibition is open to all traders and especially tourism sector related and general traders. MHTE is the ideal platform to meet the key decision makers in Tourism Industry in Maldives. Companies dealing in Resorts/Hotels Suppliers, Importers & Wholesalers, Distributors, Retailers, F & B Suppliers, Architects, Interior Specialist and Construction Companies, IT and Electronics distributors/Agents and many other trades will participate in the event.

MHTE is the biggest trade event held in Maldives and is the most attended event in the country. MCCI reports that some 109 stalls are already booked by companies from Maldives, Sri lanka, Australia, India, Thailand, Singapore and Italy. The event also includes a special pavilion from America.

Maldives Hotel & Trade Exhibition (MHTE 2008) is the official exhibition of Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry whose main aim is solely to establish a value added single largest international business gathering where key decision makers, Buyers & Sellers from Hotel Industry, tourism and other trading sectors can meet to forge future business Partnerships.

 

Adaaran celebrates WTA success

6th July: Adaaran Resorts has celebrated the wining of 'Indian Ocean's Leading Destination' award by Maldives and the 'Maldives Leading Water Villas' award by Adaaran Prestige Water Villas at the World Travel Awards 2008 held in Shanghai, China.

According to a press release issued by Adaaran yesterday the celebrations held at Hudhuran Fushi of Adaaran resorts was attended by Deputy Minister of Tourism Dr. Mausoom, senior tourism ministry officials, senior officials from Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB), the Deputy Chairman and the Board of Adaaran resorts as well as management and staff of ADAARAN Prestige Water Villas.

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas won the Maldives Leading Water Villas award while Maldives lead the way in the Indian Oceans Leading Destination category bagging 8 awards at the World Travel Awards Asia and Indian Ocean ceremony held on the 19 of last month in China. These most sought after awards are the best of the best and is considered as the Oscars of the world travel and tourism industry.

Speaking after receiving the award, CEO as well as the MD of the Adaaran Resorts, Maldives, said "most of the international hotel brands are present in Maldives and every one competes to provide the best of luxury. At Adaaran, we differ ourselves by providing our guests "unique concepts" offering luxury and the highest standards, in fulfilling their personal preferences. At Adaaran Prestige guests tailor make their own holidays and we deliver it" Adaaran press release states.

World Travel Awards was launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognize excellence in the world's tourism and travel industry. The awards are regarded as the highest that a travel or hotel product could receive. Travel professionals from 167,000 travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organizations in over 160 voted across the globe to select the winners of the awards.

 

Poll date announcement takes precedence

6th July: The list of people who have rights to vote in the upcoming presidential election could only be announced after the date for holding the election has been decided, Elections Commission revealed yesterday.

According to the transitional chapters of the amended constitution which is currently in the ratification phase, the presidential election should be held before October 10th. This will be the first multiparty election to be held in Maldives.

Assistant Director General of Elections Commission Mohamed Tholal said that a list of people who would be 18 by November 11, 2008 would be announced by his office in a near future. He also said that the list had been finalized and the next stage would be to announce the list for public comments. He added that at this stage Elections Commission under no circumstance would announce a list of people who had rights to cast votes, but would announce a list of people who would be 18 by November 11, 2008.

According to Tholal Elections Commission would announce list of people who has rights to cast their votes in the election after receiving public comments and the date for election has been decided and announced.

When asked when the election could be held, Tholal said that according to the new constitution, the date could only be announced after ratification of the constitution and would need all the requirements setout in the constitution for holding a multiparty election to be fulfilled before any announcements about the upcoming presidential election could be made.

Tholal further said that all the polling stations would be connected by a network and the work was in progress to establish such a network in consultation with Dhiraagu. He said that there would not be no room for error in terms of voting repeatedly as the network would make it possible for voting information to be distributed to all polling stations.

The visiting delegation of European Union stated that there would be independent international observers, ambassadors and foreign diplomats actively participating in observing the first multiparty election to be held in the Maldives.

President has said a number of times that he was doing numerous works to make the upcoming election free of influence, free and fair and that the required independent institutions were being created for the cause.

 

MMA Board Directors appointed

7th July: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has appointed members to the Board of Directors of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) yesterday.

The members appointed to the Board include; Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority Abdulla Jihad, Deputy Governor of MMA, Aishath Zahira, Senior Executive Director of MMA, Abdul Ghafoor Abdul Latheef, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Ismail Shafeeq, Registrar of Companies of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Ahmed Ifthikhaar, Chief Executive Officer of MVK Maldives, Ibrahim Shafeeq and the Director of Crown Company Pvt Ltd, Ahmed Nazeer.

 

Foreign Minister arrives back in Male'

7th July: Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, has arrived back in Male' yesterday morning after concluding an official visit to Jeddah and New York, revealed Foreign Ministry.

According to Foreign Ministry, Shahid travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the 28th of this month to sign the new Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and then arrived in New York to attend a High-Level Segment meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held at the United Nations from the 30th June to the 3rd of July 2008.

Maldives is the 3rd country to ratify the new Charter of the OIC; the two countries who have ratified the charter are Malaysia and Senegal.

Minister's visit to New York marked a significant achievement for the Maldives, under the leadership of the Maldives Permanent Mission to UN; a one day side-event during the High-Level Segment of the ECOSOC was organized. This special event titled "The Human Dimension of Global Climate Change" brought together experts from diverse fields in a panel discussion, chaired by the Foreign Minister, to find equitable solutions to the challenges posed by global climate change. Shahid also spoke at the High-Level Segment meeting, highlighting the vulnerability of small-island developing states such as the Maldives and made an urgent call to the international community to ensure greater climate justice.

Foreign Ministry said Shahid's visits have served to enhance the profile of the Maldives globally, and have further strengthened its relations with other nations.

 

Pakistan donates health equipments

7th July: Government of Pakistan has donated health equipments to Male' Health Center under the Special Assistance Program for South Asia (SAPSA). The equipments was handed over at a special ceremony held at Male' Health Center yesterday morning.

According to Department of External Resources the equipments were handed over to Maldivian government by Dr. Jamaaluhdheen the Pakistan Ambassador accredited to Maldives. The equipments on behalf of Maldivian government were accepted by Dr. Hussain Niyaz Executive Director at the Department of External Resources.

The donated equipments include Blood Pressure (BP) apparatus, ECG machine, cardiac monitor, and other equipments reports External Resource Department.

The ceremony was attended by senior officials of Ministry of Health, Male' Health Center and External Resource Department.

 

Go Vote campaign launched

7th July: Civil society members has launched a 'Go Vote 'campaign at a press conference held at news room Fansavees , Dharubaaruge yesterday. The press conference feature d British High commissioner Dr.Peter Hayes designated to Maldives.

The Go Vote campaign calls on Maldivians to participate in the county's upcoming first multi party election and exercise their right to choose the next president. The campaign in conducted by eight NGO's including "Hama Jammiyya" , "Maldives Aid", "Maldivian Detainee Network" , "Open Society Association", "Rights for All" , "Strength of Society" ,"Transparency Maldives" and " Maldivian Civil Society Network".

British High commissioner Dr.Hayes presented a speech on "Democracy: The people's role in free and fair elections" which was followed by a brief presentation on the objectives and planned activities of the 'Go Vote' campaign.

The campaign, which will last until the week before the presidential election, promotes voter awareness through a series of forums and music concerts, posters, TV and radio programs and the dissemination of voter education booklets. A special program for the youth, which forms more than 25% of the eligible voter population, is to be carried out.

The event was guided by Mariyam Seena of Maldives Aid. Hamza Khaleel of Strength of Society (SOS) gave an overview presentation on the 'Go Vote' campaign. Shahindha Ismail of the Maldives Detainee Network and Hussain Siraj of Hama Jamiyya and Transparency Maldives joined the press conference to answer questions from the media.

The first forum of the campaign in Male' is tentatively scheduled for 23 July.

 

Framework for health sector reform in progress

7th July: The work on formulating a framework for health sector reform is in progress, Civil Service Commission (CSC) has stated.

According to CSC, as some areas of health sector has not been included in the previous proposal for the sector reform, the latest work is aimed at including all the relevant areas of health sector and when the framework for the skilled workers of the sector is complete the management structure will also be addressed.

CSC further said that in the reform exercise the wages and compensation practices were being assessed and that they would check if wages were in line with qualifications and ranks.

According to CSC finance ministry has been informed of the reform work in progress unofficially and discussions are being held with officials of finance ministry in making certain decisions related to the reform process.

CSC stated that that the wages of the health sector should also be revised at a time when staff of other institutions was given improved salaries. The framework for health sector reform was proposed to CSC during last June and it hopes to complete the work soon.

No plans to delay ratification process – Nasheed

8th July: Minister of Legal Reform Information and Arts Mohamed Nasheed has revealed that two or three issues have been noted that might cause delays in the ratification process of the new constitution and that currently work is under way to find a solution to these issues. Minister Nasheed also revealed that it was not the intention of the government to delay the ratification process. He made the statements speaking at a news conference held at Fansavees last Tuesday.

Minister Nasheed stated that if everything progress at the current speed and concurrently, the October 10 th deadline for the presidential elections can be achieved without much difficulty. All that is needed is an atmosphere where all parties can participate in order to carry out the tasks as quickly as possible Nasheed said.

"The difficult part will be to form institutions, organizations and the necessary Bills; we are working on it, and we have already sent necessary Bills to all concerned, we have sent them to political parties and to the members of the core parliamentary group; we have started receiving their comments, by the time the constitution gets ratified all these will, in principle, be in place" Nasheed said.

According to Nasheed all arrangements that are required to be in place before the ratification of the new constitution will be put in place. Providing equal media opportunities to all political parties, providing security to party officials and presidential contenders when they travel to atolls and granting easy access to government buildings or community centers are being arranged. Saying that such arrangements are part of the government plan, Nasheed expressed that by the time the constitution is ratified most of the necessary arrangements will be in place. However he noted some difficulties are to be expected due to shortening of some process in order to meet the October deadline.

When asked to comment on the public speculation that October 10 deadline is not tangible, Nasheed replied that so far only one person has expressed doubts on the deadline and that even MDP was working hard to hold the elections as soon as possible.

"Only one person has expressed doubts over the proposed election date and that is the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Special Majlis as well as the Presidential candidate of Social Liberal Party Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra). He alone has said that elections is only possible sometime in December, the fact of the matter is, so far I have not received any complaints regarding the date from the candidates" Nasheed said.

When posed the question whether the government was considering holding the forthcoming multiparty presidential elections under the existing constitution, Nasheed replied that government had no such intentions and that it was a useless thinking conjured up by some sources. Nasheed assured that this year the country will witness its first ever multiparty presidential elections.

Nasheed expressed that it was not the government's intention to delay the ratification of the new constitution. He said the government was working to find solutions to issues in the constitution. He assured that the only reason a delay can be expected is if the government finds any issue with the constitution that might hamper the implementation of the constitution and even then the government will try its level best to overcome such difficulties and ratify the constitution soonest.

 

Voting is the heart of democracy – Dr. Hayes

7th July: The British High Commissioner Dr. Peter Hayes accredited to Maldives have said that at voting symbolize everything that democracy stands for and that voting is the very heart of democracy. Dr. Hayes made the statement speaking at a press conference organized by NGO's to launch the 'Go Vote' campaign held at newsroom Fansavees yesterday.

Speaking on the importance of voting in a democracy Dr. Hayes said that democracy in many ways is very simple thing. He said democracy is some thing over which people have fought and died for many centuries and that it is about the people deciding who governs them and who attends to their affairs.

"The test of a democracy is not just the laws and the regulations and the procedures that are in place, it not just the institutions that are in place, it is whether the people of the country have trust and confidence in their democracy, it is in fact whether their democracy truly reflects the visions of the people" British High Commissioner Dr. Peter Hayes said.

Dr. Hayes further said at the heart of every democracy is the people and a democracy where the people do not get involved is not a democracy. He informed that the word democracy means power of the people and that the vote in a democracy is the symbol of everything in a democracy.

"The process of voting is really the sacred bond of trust between an individual and the country and that it was important for all concerned to take voting seriously" said Dr. Hayes. He said people should be serious on how they cast their vote and the options presented to them. He said people have an obligation to vote and be part of the process. He expressed that people should not let anybody tell them how to vote or make that decision for them or anybody persuade them on how to vote by any means other than polices that are in place. He called on the people to guard their right to vote and to discharge the right responsibly.

 

 

Aishath Zahira appointed as Deputy Governor

7th July: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom appointed Aishath Zahira to the post of Deputy Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) yesterday. Aishath Zahira has served MMA for a considerable number of years and has held several senior positions.

 

 

Social Health Insurance to be launched in August

8th July: Work is underway to launch the government initiated social health insurance scheme by the late August reveals the senior official in charge of setting up the scheme.

Thorig Ali Luthfee , the senior most officials in charge of setting up the scheme informed Miadhu Daily that the scheme will be introduced in phases.

"With the launching of the Social Health Insurance Scheme, the first phase will be to introduce the scheme to the people registered in the social welfare department, and then it will be introduced to retired civil servants and government employees. When I say government employees, I mean those working in civil service as well as those working for the government outside civil service. We will introduce these groups in this order, one by one" Thorig revealed.

Thorig informed that the main objective is to introduce the scheme to all Maldivians by the end of year 2010.

Thorig also informed that scheme will benefit all Maldivians and the main priority of the government when introducing such a scheme is to ensure that the full benefits of the system are reached to the citizens on easy and convenient terms.

"The scheme being introduced will provide the necessary health care to the respective individual when the individual goes to a registered health service provider, through the use of the national identity cards we can monitor what health services are obtained through our network, we are not employing insurance cards and things like that, the scheme will establish systems of obtaining health care" revealed Thorig.

When asked, how much an individual is entitled for health care under the scheme Thorig replied that the aim was to provide quality health care over a sustained period of time.

"We are thinking of providing quality health care, rather than imposing limits, the scheme is introduced for the benefit of everyone" he said.

President in presidential address this year has informed that a social health insurance scheme is to be introduced for government employees, their families and to those who require financial assistance to satisfy the most essential and basic needs. Attempts were made by Ministry of Higher Education Employment and Social Welfare early last year to establish health care scheme for government staff. However the attempts did not succeed.

 

 

President inaugurates Manafaru resort

8th July: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom yesterday said that the tourism sector is expanding rapidly across the country. He made the statement while speaking at the official inauguration ceremony of "the Beach House at Manafaru Maldives".

Speaking at the ceremony after the inauguration of the resort, President Gayoom said that the fruition of the Government's efforts to promote the tourism industry is visible and expressed his happiness on the progress of the industry.

Noting that it was a great honor for him to inaugurate the resort, President thanked the Chairman and Managing Director of the Sun Hotels and Resorts Pvt Ltd, Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, senior officials of the resort, members of staff of the resort and tour operators of the resort.

President Gayoom then highlighted the services of Ahmed Siyam Mohamed to promote tourism industry in the country and noted his excellent efforts to maintain the high standard of tourist resorts.

In his speech, President further noted the importance the Government attach to provide job opportunities to Maldivians as new resorts are being developed. He also said that the tourism sector is one of the pillars of the country's economy and highlighted the importance of sustainable development of the industry.

At the inauguration ceremony, President was presented with a commemorative plaque. Ahmed Siyam Mohamed presented the plaque to the President on behalf of Sun Hotels and Resorts Pvt Ltd.

Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahmood Shaugee, the Chairman and Managing Director of Sun Hotels and Resorts Pvt Ltd, Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, Director of Job Market Maldives Pvt Ltd, Mohamed Saleem and the Director of "The Beach House at Manafaru Maldives", Hussain Salim Mohamed also spoke at the ceremony.

 

Islamic banking to commence within months

8th July: Islamic Banking will commence in the next three to four months, Finance Minister Qasim Ibrahim has said. Minister made the statement speaking at the press briefing held after the signing of the agreement with Maldivian government, Dubai Noor Islamic Bank and Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector to launch the Islamic banking in Maldives.

The bank to be opened under the name of Noor Islamic Maldives Pvt. Ltd is owned 34% by the government of Maldives, 33% by Noor Islamic Bank of Dubai and 33% by Islamic Cooperation for Development of Private Sector.

Speaking on the delay in the introduction of Islamic banking service Finance Minister said "the delay in providing the service is due to First Dhawood Bank of Pakistan, but now our share holders are leading institutions in Islamic banking, we are working to open this bank within 3 to 4 months".

Finance Minister said when the Noor Maldives Islamic Bank opens it will introduce new banking principles to Maldives. Minister emphasized that bank will provide interest free loans to develop various sectors of the economy.

"Unlike commercial banks, loans will be given interest free, Islamic banking is being taken on by many countries" Finance Minister said.

The agreement on behalf of Maldives was signed by Minister Qasim Ibrahim, on behalf of Nooru Islamic Bank by Deputy Group CEO Ahmed Al Janahi and on behalf of Islamic Cooperation Development by Fund Manager Baseel Al Hagg Easa.

 

IC holds election for executive members

9th July: India club (IC), a registered association in Maldives, conducted its first election for the post of executive members on the 4 of this month. The election was conducted at the premises of the High Commission of India applying all the best practices of democratic principles.

According to IC there was a turn out of 83 per cent. Voting and counting was completed on the same day. IC informed that the formal announcement of elected candidates will be made later.

IV has expressed gratitude to the government of Maldives, Maldives Police Services and the Commissioner of Elections for various assistance and support provided.

IC was formally registered in the Maldives on the 21 of February 2008. The club was registered with noble objectives of reviving and furthering social and cultural activities under the laws and regulations of the Maldives. It also aims at renewing and strengthening friendship and cooperation among the Indian, the Maldivian and other communities residing in the Maldives. The Club operates, temporarily at the premises of the High Commission of India in Male'. The membership of the Club will be open to all expatriate Indian nationals residing in the Maldives.

 

President Gayoom calls for the adoption of a new universal right to promote Climate Justice

9th July: The President of the Maldives, H.E. Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, sent a recorded video message to the UN General Assembly's Follow-up Meeting on 'Climate Change and Most Vulnerable Countries – The Imperative to Act' to highlight the threats posed by climate change to Small Island States and to stress the importance of grasping the concept of Climate Justice.

Highlighting the present dangers of climate change, the President said that: "Our beaches are already eroding. Our land is already being washed away. Our coral reefs, and the marine life that they support, are already dying. Our homes, way-of-life and culture are already at risk. Our human rights are already being compromised and our very lives are already being imperilled."

The President went on to say that: "In terms of mitigation, small island states and many other vulnerable countries contribute very little to global warming and thus, by extension, have only a limited ability to tackle the problem through domestic policy. Internationally, our voice is not well heard in the global fora, and thus we face the challenge of ensuring the kind of responses that we, better that anyone else, know are necessary. Similiarly, significant financial, human and technical resource constraints reduce our ability to adapt to the everyday realities of climate change and to protect our peoples, our land and our livelihoods."

The President emphasized the irony of the situation, saying that: "Within an international community based upon the rule of law, universal values of equality, human rights and dignity, it is surely wrong for small vulnerable communities to suffer because of the actions of other larger more powerful countries, actions over which they have no control, and little or no protection."

The President then called on the UN to adopt a new Declaration. He said: "In particular, it is my firm conviction that the United Nations should consider the adoption of a new universal right – namely, the right to live in a safe, secure and sustainable environment. The Declaration of such a right would promote Climate Justice, especially for small vulnerable states, by providing a source and focus for that justice."

"In the final analysis, the future of the Maldives and other vulnerable countries is in the hands of our brothers and sisters in the United Nations family.

We refuse to accept a future in which any seat in this assembly hall would fall empty", he concluded.

The President of the General Assembly paid a special tribute to the President for sending the video message, which was acknowledged with high regard at the special session. The statement was later quoted by many, including the G77, the representative for Least Developed Countries and the Key Note Speaker who is a representative of the IPCC.

 

 

President calls for adoption of new universal rights

10th July: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, sent a recorded video message to the UN General Assembly's Follow-up Meeting on 'Climate Change and Most Vulnerable Countries – The Imperative to Act' to highlight the threats posed by climate change to Small Island States and to stress the importance of grasping the concept of Climate Justice.

Highlighting the present dangers of climate change, President said that: "Our beaches are already eroding. Our land is already being washed away. Our coral reefs, and the marine life that they support, are already dying. Our homes, way-of-life and culture are already at risk. Our human rights are already being compromised and our very lives are already being imperiled."

President Gayoom went on to say that: "In terms of mitigation, small island states and many other vulnerable countries contribute very little to global warming and thus, by extension, have only a limited ability to tackle the problem through domestic policy. Internationally, our voice is not well heard in the global fora, and thus we face the challenge of ensuring the kind of responses that we, better that anyone else, know are necessary. Similarly, significant financial, human and technical resource constraints reduce our ability to adapt to the everyday realities of climate change and to protect our peoples, our land and our livelihoods."

President Gayoom emphasized the irony of the situation, saying that: "Within an international community based upon the rule of law, universal values of equality, human rights and dignity, it is surely wrong for small vulnerable communities to suffer because of the actions of other larger more powerful countries, actions over which they have no control, and little or no protection."

President then called on the UN to adopt a new Declaration. He said: "In particular, it is my firm conviction that the United Nations should consider the adoption of a new universal right – namely, the right to live in a safe, secure and sustainable environment. The Declaration of such a right would promote Climate Justice, especially for small vulnerable states, by providing a source and focus for that justice."

"In the final analysis, the future of the Maldives and other vulnerable countries is in the hands of our brothers and sisters in the United Nations family.

We refuse to accept a future in which any seat in this assembly hall would fall empty", he concluded.

President of the General Assembly paid a special tribute to the President for sending the video message, which was acknowledged with high regard at the special session. The statement was later quoted by many, including the G77, the representative for Least Developed Countries and the Key Note Speaker who is a representative of the IPCC.

 

Zahiya meets officials of Teachers Association

10th July: Minister of Education Zahiya Zareer has met with senior officials from the Association for Teachers Link, a statement from the education ministry said. The meeting which took place on the 7 of this month at the education ministry was attended by 14 officials from the teachers association and senior officials from the education ministry.

During the meeting minister noted that a large number of school teachers staged a nation wide strike demanding higher wages. She assured that despite the action the ministry had no plans to take any disciplinary action.

However she informed that the ministry will be following rules and regulations established by Civil Service Commission, and called on teachers to respect the regulations of the civil service commission.

Education Minister Zahiya also thanked the school teachers for cutting short the protest staged on the first of this month in order to respect the wishes and pleas of the members of the People's Majlis, independent commissions and education ministry.

Further minister Zahiya explained the efforts made by the ministry, so far, to raise the wages of the school teachers.

Members of the Teachers Association spoke on the needs and issues of the school teachers and requested the ministry for financial assistance to operate the association.

The meeting was brought to close after deciding to hold such meetings in the future.

 

Employment Act comes in to force

10th July: For the first time in its history, Maldives has commenced acting on an Employment Act. The Employment Act ratified by the President on the 25 of this month came in to force on the midnight of 8 th June 2008. The Bill was initially submitted to the Majlis in early 2006.

Briefing the media at Fansavees, Dharubaaruge, Employment Ministry's legal Affairs Director Hussain Shiraaj said that unless exempted by another act of law the Employment Act is applicable to all those working in Maldives. He highlighted the Employment Act introduces very basic guidelines.

"For example, a 15 minute break is to be provided to every employee during prayer time, I don't believe deduction of 15 minutes from duty hours for prayers or providing a 30 minute break for duty hours exceeding 5 hours, will adversely affect the business of small and medium sized business organization or it is against business practices. The Act introduces such basic guidelines , so I am sure this will not have any impact on the financial or operational aspects of any small or medium scale business, we can see in other parts of the world small scale business flourishing under the same procedures" Shiraj said.

Shiraj further said as the government and private sector commence acting on the employment law many administrative procedures need to be established.

Under clause (a) of article 34 of the Employment Act, people employed under emergency situations, people working on ocean going vessels, aircrafts, people engaged in dispatching and receiving aircrafts or ocean going vessels, loaders and un loaders of such ocean going vessels or aircrafts, or people engaged in providing other services to such aircrafts and vessels, people employed in tourist resorts, people employed in industrial sites on uninhabited islands and top level officials are excluded form the conditions set forth in the Act.

Article 34 of the Employment Act states that all workers except those excluded in the Act, shall not be asked to work more than 48 hours excluding over time. Further the article 34 stipulates that no worker, expect for those excluded in the Act, shall be asked to work on the designated 'off day' or on the 'off day' as agreed up on, with out providing 2 consecutive days or no worker, except for those excluded in the Act, shall be asked to work for more than 6 consecutive days.

 

Seminar on HIV/ AIDS to commence

10th July: A one day seminar on 'Enhancing the Response to HIV / AIDS in the Maldives' is to commence today, a statement from Department of Public Health (DPH) revealed.

The one day seminar aimed at people working in health sector is held under the joint collaboration of DPH and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

According to DPH the objective of the seminar is to provide information on HIV/ AIDS to people working in the health sector and also to provide information on how to care and treat HIV/AIDS patients.

A total of 30 people are scheduled to take part in the seminar including staff from Indhira Ghandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), ADK Hospital, Villingili Health Center, and Hulhumale' Hospital.

DPH informs that information at the seminar will be given by suitably qualified experts who had received necessary training from abroad.

 

504 Flats will be completed by end of the year

11th July: Hulhumale' Development Cooperation (HDC) has revealed that if things were going according to plans the ongoing project worth USD 17.9million for building 504 flats in Hulhumale' would be completed by the end of the year.

HDC further stated that about 70% of the work had been completed and that the flats were divided into 63 blocks. Electrical wiring and plumbing were also going on in parallel with civil works, HDC said.

In addition, the road project is also under way which includes 5.6 km of paving and costs USD 6.2 million according to HDC.

The contractor of the project is a joint venture company between CECB, a Sri Lankan company and STO.

According to HDC, about 50% of the road project has been completed which includes excavating the road area and building the pavement. The remaining portion will be paving and finishing the main road area.

 

Auditor General's Report, not the final word: President

11th July: Auditor General's report does not have to be a report that has to be accepted by everybody and that the budget was prepared by qualified people with necessary experience, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has said. President Gayoom made the statement speaking at a press briefing held following the ratification of the first amendment to the Presidential Election Law. The first amendment of the Presidential Elections Law freezes article 9 of the Presidential Elections Bill and effectively removes the constitutional barrier on presidential campaigning before the Elections Commissioner officially announce the elections.

When asked what he had to say about the Auditor General's recent observations of the state budget provided to the Majlis, President Gayoom said a many of his cabinet members as well as large number of high ranking government officials do not accept the observations of the Auditor General.

President Gayoom said this year's state budget was prepared in the manner used by previous finance ministers and that the Auditor General is not aware of any additional information that the minister's did not have and as such the Auditor General's observation cannot be taken as the final word on the matter.

President further expressed that finance minister Qasim was a capable finance minister and is providing adequate responses to such claims.

"The report of the Auditor General does not have to be report that has to be accepted by everyone, the budget was prepared by experts, the budget was prepared in the same manner as it was prepared before, all previous finance ministers also prepared it the same way, it is not practice, and Auditor General will not have any additional information that these minister did not know" President Gayoom explained.

Auditor General in his report submitted to the Majlis said that this year's state budget is not valid and called on the government to reconsider and prepare to re prepare the budget. Auditor General also said the state budget this year faces a deficit of Rf.4.4 Billion.

 

Maldivian artists to participate in STAR Voice of India

11th July: Maldives has been given the opportunity to participate in the Star Voice of India being organized by the famous pay TV network STAR.

Next group who made it possible for Maldivians to take part in the singing contest said that the opportunity would be invaluable and that there would be an audition to select two contestants from Maldives. 30 participants will compete in the audition judged by Indian judges and there would be a further audition to select the 30.

According to Next judges will give marks out of 70 and the rest would be opened for public to award marks via SMS. Next has expressed its concern that renowned local artists had distanced themselves from the event. However they said that famous singer Unoosha had taken the application form.

The prospect of singing in India and becoming playback singers for Indian movies is high for the successful participants as stated by Next. Also Next said that free training would be given to the participants who succeed to go to India.

TVM and Voice of Maldives have not given importance to the event and the reason is that the songs will be in Hindhi according to Next.

 

First Amendment to Presidential Election Bill ratified

11th July: President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom yesterday ratified the first amendment to the "Presidential Election Law" at a ceremony held at the President's Office.

Speaking with the media after ratification, President Gayoom said that following the ratification of this Bill, the Presidential candidates will get fair and balanced opportunities to campaign within the law for the upcoming presidential election.

 

Dhiraagu launches 'Asia Promo'

11th July: Dhiraagu, the national telecom service provider has announced a new IDD 019 promotion called 'Asia Promo'.

According to Dhiraagu the special promotion was commenced on the 10 th of this month and will continue till the 10th of August 2008. The promotion is conducted for 5 popular destinations; Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The special rate offered during the promotional period is Rf 2.40 per minute to any of these countries and is available 24 hours.

According to Dhiraagu customers will simply have to dial 019 followed by country code and telephone number from their Dhiraagu mobiles or landlines. The company also revealed that customers will be charged per minute basis.

Dhiraagu claims that the telecoms company offers the lowest and best international call rates in the country.

 

National interest should be given priority – president

11th July: The fact that some political parties and political organizations put their own interest before the national interest and work towards achieving their personal benefits is rather worrisome, president Gayyoom said in inaugural speech of the second national congress of his party.

President emphasized the importance of the political organizations to put the national interest before personal interest. He said that it was not only DRP that should put the national interest ahead but all political organizations should work for the betterment of people and not for any other purpose.

President further said that under the rules of his party regulations, the party president became the presidential candidate by default. He also said that although he was not able to campaign during the past few months due to legal restrictions, he needed the cooperation and support of his party members.

Also the president said that ratification of the parliament's decision to postpone the enactment of chapter 9 of the Presidential Elections Act paved way for him to campaign for the presidency.

DRP also needs to be determined to campaign and it should go ahead appropriately in Male' and Atolls, president said.

President said that his campaign would not focus on undermining other parties but on educating people of what the DRP president had done for the people and making people to make an informed decision.

"I am prepared to represent DRP in the upcoming election and determined to bring success to DRP with the will of Allah" President said.

"The policy of DRP is to cooperate with other parties and be friendly. Work towards development, safety, peace and progress in unity and set an example for other developing democratic states in the cause." President said.

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