Thursday, July 09, 2020
Maldives News Bulletin, 27-07-2008
Issue No: 1162

Cabinet Propose to Reduce Gov. Expenditure by 20%

20th July: To alleviate the problems that the country's economy is facing due to the global economic recession, the Cabinet today recommended President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom to reduce the government expenditure by twenty percent. This decision was made by the Cabinet after deliberating on steps the government could take to improve the current economic situation.

The Cabinet also recommended that all government Ministries and Offices should consult with the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to decide on the areas to make the cuts.

As another austerity measure, the Cabinet also decided to cancel this year's Independence Day celebrations to be held in the evening, at the National Grounds.

Further, the President accepted the proposal by the Ministers to reduce their salaries and living allowances by fifteen percent. At yesterday's meeting the President also said that he has decided to implement this proposal starting from the 1st of July. The Cabinet made this proposal to the President to alleviate the constraints on the government budget at a time when the country's economy is in recession.

At yesterday's meeting the President congratulated the two new Cabinet Ministers, Mr. Abdulla Jihad Minister of Finance and Treasury, and Dr. Abdulla Mausoom Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation and expressed his hope that he will receive their full support and co-operation.


Farish departs to India as Gayoom's special delegate

21st July: Ahmed Farish Maumoon, son of leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, has departed to India on an official visit as the special delegate of the party's leader President Gayyoom.

According to a statement issued by DRP the 3 day visit to India is aimed at improving and enhancing the existing friendly relations between the party and India's ruling party Indian National Congress (INC). DRP's delegation in addition to President Gayoom's son Farish Maumoon includes party's secretary general as well as deputy foreign minister Abdulla Hameed, registrar and chief spokesperson Ibrahim Shafiu and youth council member as well as presidential spokesperson Mohamed Hussain Shareef (Mundhu).

According to DRP, the delegation is expected to meet INC's leader Rahul Gandhi, minister of state for foreign affairs Sharma and other top level officials of INC. The delegation is also expected to visit the main headquarters of the congress party.

According to a statement issued by DRP the objective of the visit is study and gain experience on structure and infrastructure of the congress party as well as improve relations between the two parties.


High Court orders to reinstate the dismissed civil servants

21st July: High Court last Sunday upheld the decision of the Civil Court and ruled to reinstate the 10 special Majlis members who were dismissed from their civil service jobs earlier this year when the civil service law came in to effect.

High Court ordered civil service commission to reinstate, Ibrahim Haleem / Director General at Hulhumale' Hospital as well as Special Majlis member for Ga. atoll, Lubna Mohamed Zahir Hussain /Executive Director at Attorney General's Office as well as Special Majlis member for Shaviyani atoll, Moosa Rameez/ Executive Director at Atolls Ministry as well as Special Majlis member for Shaviyani atoll, Anwar Ali /Assistant Director General at the Planning Ministry as well as Special Majlis member for Faafu atoll, Moosa Nizar/ Director General at Atolls Ministry as well as Special Majlis member for Vaavu atoll, Abdulla Latheef/ Director General at IGMH as well as Special Majlis member for G Dh. atoll and Ibrahim Thohir / Assistant Director General at Atolls Ministry as well as Special Majlis member for Seenu atoll.

Further civil court previously had ordered the commission to reinstate 3 members appointed by the president to the Special Majlis to their civil service jobs. The 3 president's members are Abdul Rasheed Nafiz / director at higher education ministry, Mohamed Anil, legal reform commissioner at the legal reform ministry and Qubaid Abubakar, Vice President at the Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs.

Civil Court also ordered the reinstatement of Mohamed Waheed Ali/ assistant director general at the home ministry as well as G Dh. atoll member and Abdulla Naseer/supervisor at Dharumavantha School as well as Special Majlis member for Ha atoll.

High Court ruling raises serious doubts on the voluntary resignations of the special Majlis members as well as Majlis members who voluntarily resigned from their government positions in order to comply with the civil service law. While legal experts believe that such resignations based on invalid laws and procedures cannot be considered as binding, the questions of what will eventually happen remains unanswered.


MTDC thanks Dr. Shaugee

22nd July: Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has thanked former tourism minister Dr. Mahmoud Shaugee for the valuable services he rendered to the company.

In a statement issued last Wednesday the company expressed that Dr. Shaugee played a key role in the formation of the company and that Dr. Shaugee was the main reason behind its current success.

The statement said that ever since the company was formed on 9 April 2006 Dr. Shaugee has made valuable contributions to the company, both as the tourism minister and on his own. "MTDC is very grateful for his valuable contributions and wishes to thank him very sincerely for his services and immense support" the statement said.

The statement noted that the company formed with the objective of providing the benefits of tourism to the public as possible after overcoming many obstacles in its initial stages is now a success which has achieved the full confidence of its shareholders.

"MTDC will always value the support and valuable advice given by Dr. Shaugee" the statement noted.

Maldives Association of Tourism Industries (MATI) last week issued a statement expressing regrets at the resignation of Dr. Shaugee. MATI in a statement issued expressed regrets and said Dr. Shaugee during his term in office revolutionized Maldives Tourism. Dr. Shaugee resigned from the government on the 2nd of this month. President Gayyoom since then has accepted his resignation and has appointed Dr. Shaugee's deputy Dr. Abdulla Mausoom as the Minister for Tourism.


Devinfo training underway

22nd July: Devinfo advance lab training is underway at UN Building and will continue from 21 st to 24 th of this month, a statement from planning ministry has revealed.

According to planning ministry this is the first time Devinfo advance lab training has been held in the country. Planning ministry said that the objective of the training is to introduce the software and its versions to various offices and to train and familiarize administrators to use the software.

Information at the training sessions is to be provided by a Devinfo expert provided by UNICEF. More 20 than delegates from 13 offices are taking part in the training.

MaldivInfo is an adopted version of the DevInfo Software developed specifically to the Maldives by UNICEF and the Ministry of Planning. The software was launched on the 27th June 2007.

The Database of the MaldivInfo consists of information from the Census 1990, 1995, 2000, 2006, Vulnerable and Poverty Assessment 1 (VPA I), Vulnerability and Poverty Assessment 11 (VPAII), Statistical Yearbooks, Reproductive Health Survey, and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey.

Planning ministry said the software is a useful tool and provides loads of information and that maps, graphs and tables can be prepared using the software. Ministry also revealed that training and familiarization sessions will be held for the public.


Ministers' salary cut by 15 pc

22nd July: Salaries and other allowances paid to ministers in the Cabinet will be reduced by 15 percent from 1 July 2008. This decision was reached after the meeting of the Cabinet on Sunday as part of the austerity measures announced by the Government. The Government has also announced to have a 20 percent cut on Government expenditure.

Maldives has been facing severe inflation following the present financial difficulties. Finance Minister Gasim Ibrahim and Tourism Minister Mahmood Shaugee have resigned from their posts following their differences with the government over the budget and economic policies. Economic Development Minister Mohamed Jaleel has also resigned last week following the huge budget deficit and inability to raise the necessary revenue for the budget. Jaleel has said he has not received the cooperation of government ministries on the mega projects his ministry was assigned to for generating the much needed finance for the huge budget.

The Government has decided to carry on the Independence Day celebrations as scheduled, a day after the Cabinet decided to cancel these celebrations as part of the austerity measures taken by the government to ease the current financial and budgetary difficulties.

The reason for holding the celebrations is because the schools and others who are participating in the celebrations with their programs have already taken months of preparations and spent much for their programs. Children and parents who were disappointed by the decision for cancelling the celebrations, have requested the government to have the celebrations, hence it has been decided to carry on the celebrations. The celebrations organized in F.Nilandhoo also will be held as scheduled.

However, the official reception given by President Gayyoom and First Lady Nasreena Ibrahim has been cancelled.


Majlis approves Police Bill

24th July: People's Majlis nearly after nearly2 years of deliberations has passed the Police Bill at its 22nd sitting held yesterday morning. The Bill was passed unanimously with all the 42 members in attendance voting in favor.

Despite it's the Bill being passed unanimously, out of the 43 amendments proposed only 5 amendments was accepted. As a result many members voiced their concerns. Thaa atoll MP Mohamed Shareef was the most vocal among them.

According to Shareef the failure of amendments proposed by members was a blow to democracy. He further said at a time when democracy was being introduced to the country the Police Bill was passed in a way that it facilitates acts of totalitarianism.
However despite Shareef's arguments many members spoke in support of the Bill. Members declared that such a Bill was absolutely necessary for the time being and that some amendments need to incorporated later. Members urged police officers to abide by the Police Act and to refrain from any activity that may distort the good image and integrity of the organization.

Opposition MP Maria Ahmed Didi commenting on the Bill called on the Police Services to limit its use of powers where ever possible and use them with restraint, even though the Bill granted them huge powers.

President's member Mohamed Saleem expressed that it was totally unacceptable and unfair to point fingers at the police force without having provided a legal boundary.

Home Minister Abdulla Kamaaluhdheen assured the Majlis that he will try his best to work as desired by the members and as per the provisions of the Police Bill.

Speaking at the Majlis sitting legal Reform Minister Nasheed said that endorsement of the police Bill was an important step forward for the ratification of the revised constitution. He further said 2 very important Bills concerning the police services were being drafted by the government. He identified the 2 Bills as Police Integrity Commission Bill and Bill on Police Powers and Responsibilities. He said the government will soon complete the draft of these Bills and submit them to the Majlis. Nasheed also revealed that drafting of 17 regulations that are required under the Police Bill has been initiated and that these regulations shall come in to force soon after the ratification of the Police Bill.

The Police Bill which consists of 76 articles gives police officers a wide range powers. Included among them, is the authority to demand identification from anybody if suspected of any illegal activity whether in a house, on a boat or in any part of the country and the authority to cordon off roads or any part of the country for periods up to 72 hours if suspected of any imminent illegal occurrences.

The Bill also gives the right to police officers to request for the assistance of the public in the discharge of their duties as well as to take over and use public or private property in emergency situations. The Bill further empowers the Police Services to import and utilize all necessary conveniences and facilities that are necessary for the proper discharge of the responsibilities and duties including arms although use of arms is limited under special procedures.
Further the Police Bill stipulates that some 17 regulations need to formed and introduced within 6 months of the ratification of the Bill. As per the Bill the top officer of the Maldives Police Services is the Commissioner of the Police Services and the second in command is the Deputy Commissioner of Police Services. Appointments to these two positions are to be made by the president. The Police Bill also grants the right to vote to all police officers.


Second amendment to Land Law ratified

24th July: President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom yesterday ratified the second amendment to the Land Law. Following ratification, the Act has been published in the Government Gazette.
This Bill was proposed to the Parliament by the Lhaviani atoll MP Ahmed Mohamed and seconded by the Faafu atoll MP Ahmed Hamza, to help facilitate buying and selling of land, to develop and assist in providing shelters to the people and to develop and expand revenues from the various housing transactions.

According to this law a land or part of a land given for housing, or a building or part of a building in that land can be leased for a maximum of 35years.


Bill submitted to legalize government regulations

24th July: A Bill has been submitted to the Majlis aimed at providing constitutional authority to those regulations and rules employed by the government agencies without constitutional backing, Legal Reform Minister Mohamed Nasheed has revealed.

Nasheed on Tuesday night said the Bill was submitted as an Urgent Bill under the special privileges granted to the president under article 55 of the Majlis Standing Orders.

Nasheed pointing out that many such government regulations and rules will become void with the ratification of the revised constitution said that unless these rules and regulations are constitutionally empowered many of the functions of the government will come to a standstill when the revised constitution is introduced. Nasheed further highlighted that it was a matter of great concern for the president to ratify the revised constitution without a Bill on criminal procedures code and a Police Bill.

"There are 2 Bills in the Majlis has been there for almost 18 months, one of them is the Police Bill, if everything goes as planned this Bill will get the Majlis approval this week; we have submitted a Bill to cover these 80 or so regulations and rules that will be cancelled or void when the revised constitution is introduced, we have held extensive discussions with Majlis members and the Bill was submitted with their approval as a special urgent Bill under article 55 of the Majlis Standing Orders, so I am hoping to get the Bill out of the Majis soon" Nasheed said.
Nasheed said as these will come in to effect immediately with the ratification there will be neither time nor the opportunity to take corrective measures later after the ratification of the constitution.

Speaking at the news conference of the opposition Alliance, leader of Social Liberal Party (SLP) Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra) has said an agreement was reached with a select committee of Majlis members on forming a Bill to cover some 80 regulations which are not constitutionally empowered and that the Bill has been submitted to the Majlis. He highlighted that the government had the opportunity to include those 2 bills, which has been huge concern to the government, the criminal procedures bill and the police bill, to the Bill covering the rules and regulations.

"These 2 bills, the Bill on criminal procedures code and the Police Bill, can be considered as regulations for the time being, and can be included in that Bill covering all the government rules and regulations, we are ready to endorse these bills, we can act up on them until such time Majlis enacts Bills proper " Ibra pointed out.

Ibra further revealed that the matter was unanimously agreed up on by Core Group of Parliamentarians at a meeting chaired by legal reform minister Nasheed and that if carried accordingly there will 'no gap' as talked about frequently by the government. He further said legal reform minister Nasheed and Attorney General Azima are talking about that 'gap' simply because they both lacked the capacity to assume such positions.


President to ratify on 30th of this month

25th July: Legal Reform Minister Mohamed Nasheed has said that President Gayyoom has chosen 30th of this month to ratify the revised constitution and that Leader of social liberal party (SLP) Ibrahim Ismail, one of the lead personalities who protested at door of the presidential palace, to force the president to ratify the constitution with delay, is aware of this fact.

Offering his views on the gathering Nasheed in his private blog wrote that Leader of SLP Ibra is fully aware of the issues related to the ratification of the revised constitution. Nasheed said Ibra being a member of the Core Group of Parliamentarians (CGP) knew of stop gap measures needed for the immediate aftermath of the launch of the revised constitution as it was discussed in the CGP meetings. Nasheed noted that it was with the blessing of the CGP of which Ibra was is an active member, that decision was taken to create , an enabling legislation for the orphaned rules; expedite the police bill; and consider the adoption of the criminal procedure code. The idea of working on the adoption of the criminal procedure code was later abandoned based upon the advice offered by Ibra, that the criminal procedure code could be created as a set of regulations and added to the schedule of enabling legislation.

"Those who led the way last night to the presidential palace knew very well that the president had chosen 30 July to ratify the constitution, and that he was giving time to the parliament to bring out the necessary stop gap legislations, and time for the administrative bodies to put the necessary mechanisms in place" wrote Nasheed in his blog.

"Definitely Ibrahim Ismail would know very well, where we are, what we plan to do, and when ratification is expected. In fact the phrase 'stop gap measures' has been a phrase picked from his interventions on the subject in the core group of parliamentarians" Nasheed wrote saying that Ibra's action in joining the demonstrations at the presidential palace only showed his hypocrisy.

Responding to the opposition's claims that the president's role in the ratification is a mere formality and does not have not have a choice but to ratify once the constitution is adopted Nasheed wrote that the president, as head of state, has the power to send back constitution to the Majlis for reconsideration in the same way as he has the power to send back any ordinary legislation.

Nasheed wrote that article 102 of the constitution gives the president 90 days either to ratify the document or send it back for reconsideration or propose any amendments he considers appropriate and that constitution can only be deemed ratified on the lapse of 90 days.

Openly criticizing the gathering of the opposition leaders, Nasheed wrote that leaders had used the mosque as a gathering point and careful planning and preparations were made well in advance. He said these are the same people who had given assurances of their support in expediting the process and for a smooth ratification process. Nasheed called the event 'nothing but a major media event' and 'a true political spectacle'.

Leaders of the opposition Alliance maintained that they went to the presidential palace to seek an audience with the president as they had learnt that the president had decided to send back the revised constitution to the Majlis without ratification. Opposition leaders claimed their intention was to urge the president to ratify the constitution with out further delay and warn him against sending the document to the Special Majlis for reconsideration. Moreover they said that ratification of the constitution is not a legal process but a mere formality.

SLP leader Ibra claimed that it is already too late to ratify the constitution given the fact presidential election must be held before October 10th under the Transitional Chapter. Opposition leaders have said that if the president delays or send it back to the Majlis for consideration they will 'go for direct action' to force the ratification.


Trade Ministry to talk to traders on maintaining food prices

25th July: Trade Ministry has revealed that discussions will be held with Maldivian traders on maintaining prices of food items during the month of Raman.

Director General of Trade Ministry Usman Shakir said discussions were held with traders in the past months on controlling prices. He said discussions will continue towards controlling food prices, especially of potatoes, eggs and onions as these items are widely used during Ramazan.

"We know that prices of controlled items like sugar, rice and flour will not go up, however as we are approaching Ramazan the ministry will try its best to maintain food prices from going up, every year in order to maintain prices of food items STO puts in a lot of effort, they have assured that this year, too, they will be doing the same" Usman said.

Trade ministry informed that no specific schedule has been prepared as to when the talks will commence but said the discussions will be held before Ramazan.


The President says that the late Mr. Saikuraa Ibrahim Naeem served the Government with great dedication and sincerity for a very long period

25th July: The President, in an interview to DhiFM 95.2, has said that the late Mr. Saikuraa Ibrahim Naeem served the Government and the country with great dedication and sincerity for a very long period. He also said that the late Mr. Naeem served the country and the government in various fields and that his passing away is a great loss to the country.

Looking back at the 17 years of the late Mr. Naeem's service at the President's Office, the President noted that the late Mr. Naeem carried every assignment with utmost diligence and perfection.

In his interview to DhiFM 95.2, the President said that he is deeply saddened by the passing away of Mr. Naeem, and sent condolences to the late Mr. Naeem's mother and members of the family.


The President says ratification of new constitution is not just a ceremony but a huge responsibility

26th July: The President says that as the ratification of the Constitution is a great responsibility, with the Grace of the Almighty Allah, he will be ratifying the Constitution on the very near future. He made the statement in his Address to the Nation on the occasion of Independence Day.

 The President said that he has been meticulously reviewing the draft of the Constitution that was sent to him by the People's Special Majlis and that he has been fulfilling his responsibility under the Constitution.

 In the Address, the President said that he is aware of the varying degrees of criticism that are being levelled at him by some political parties and individuals claiming that he is delaying the ratification of the Constitution, and that they are attempting to lead the public to believe that ratification is merely a ceremony or formality. The President also said that his response to such accusations is that the ratification is not just a ceremony but it is also a massive national responsibility.

Speaking on the responsibilities vested upon him as the Head of State and Government, the President said that it is his duty to do what is in the best interest of the country and its people and to face up to all the major challenges facing the nation today. He said that it is also his wish to listen to and act upon the will of the people. The President noted that there is no one with a bigger responsibility and tougher challenge than him at this point and that with the Grace of the Almighty Allah, he will attach the highest priority to diligently fulfill the responsibilities entrusted upon him by the Constitution.

The President also spoke on the current economic situation of the country. He said the Government is committed to ensuring that the Maldives does not face the type of hardship that some of fellow Asian countries are facing at the moment. He also said that the Government is taking measures to reduce expenditure, identify additional avenues of income, relieve budgetary pressures, and maintain prices at a manageable and affordable level for the people. 

Speaking on some of the traditions, customs and values of the Maldivian people, the President stressed that Islam is the national identity of the Maldives and that our behavioural standards, mindset and actions are also greatly influenced by Islam.

In his Address to the Nation on the occasion of the Independence Day, the President urged the people to embrace the many democratic reforms in a truly national spirit, and to learn about these changes. He also noted the importance of responsibility and maturity in exercising the new freedoms and rights that we enjoy under the new Constitution, in order to ensure that the true benefits of these reforms will be felt without delay.