Majlis decides lift ban on guest houses in atolls
20th Aug: People's Majlis in its meeting yesterday passed a decree asking the government to bring an end to its policy banning guest houses in the islands of the atolls. The decree was proposed by Male' member Mohamed Shihab on 7 July before he was elected as the new Speaker of the Majlis. 32 members present at the meeting voted in support of the decree. Members hailed the decree as an important milestone in bridging the gap between Male' and atolls and for providing more economic opportunities in the atolls.
The decree expressed concern about the hardships faced by the people due to soaring oil price and food scarcity experienced throughout the world and in the Maldives, while the majority of the people live in the islands of the atolls, while there are limited economic activities and opportunities in those islands, while the Majlis believes majority of people are deprived of the benefits of tourism, and while favorable changes have taken place in the islands, the People's Majlis agreed to advise the government to bring an end to its policy prohibiting guest houses in the islands of atolls and to grant permission to operate guest houses in the islands according to an appropriate regulation.
The decision of the Majlis was warmly welcomed by the people living in the islands. Members of the Majlis have strongly criticized the policy and parliamentary questions were asked from the former Tourism Minister Dr. Mahmood Shaugy several times. The Minister has explained government was making the necessary regulations after extensive discussions with island communities. He said government does not want to deprive the islands of the benefits of tourism but there are serious social issues needed to be addressed before finalizing the matter. Dr. Shaugee also told the Majlis concerns of the possible negative effects of operating guest houses for foreign tourists were expressed by many people during the discussions in the light of the religious and cultural foundations and value systems of the country. The Minister said those people have strongly called for appropriate measures to be taken to minimize any harmful effects.
During the debate on the decree the same concerns were refreshed by some members but there was overwhelming support to grant permission to operate guest houses in all islands for the economic benefits it will bring to the people.
Members support Bill on amalgamating welfare services
20th Aug: Majlis members at its 33rd sitting of the second session held yesterday supported the bill on amalgamating social welfare services provided by the government under one institution.
At the sitting held yesterday Majlis continued the second reading of the Bill. During the plenary debate 7 members in addition to the proposer, Dhaalu atoll MP Ahmed Nashid spoke on the Bill.
MP Nashid speaking on the Bill expressed that objective of the bill is to make the government welfare services more responsible and transparent, reduce administrative expenses and to regulate standards employed in providing welfare.
Addu MP Mohamed Aslam pointed out that Bill should include the procedures on how government assistance will be provided as well as how citizens can qualify for such assistance. MP for Ga atoll Abdulla Jabir noted that when the Bill is passed it will stream line the government welfare services.
President's member Ahmed Zahir expressed that he supports the principle of the Bill .He said the main reason why he is supporting the bill is that it will be beneficial to the people. He expressed that further improvements is needed and recommended the bill be sent to a committee.
The Chair adjourned the sitting when more members were to speak on the Bill having run out of allocated time.
The President's Office publishes the new Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran on its website
20th Aug: The President's Office has today, published on its website, the new Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran, which was produced by the Government of Maldives.
The translation was published on the website to make possible for people to read the translation even before the release of the printed copies.
The website address of the President's Office is http://www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv/.
The President's Office has today sent soft copies of the Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran to radio stations and TV stations of the country. Also, the Government has decided to gift a copy of the translation to each household of the country.
Majlis accepts bill on declaring assets of top officials
20th Aug: The People's Majlis has accepted a bill on declaring assets of ministers, advisers, ambassadors and members of Majlis submitted by Dhaalu member ADK Nashid. The bill was debated extensively in the Majlis for two days and several members of the Majlis participated in the debate. The bill was seeking to make it mandatory for top government officials to declare their assets as a measure to ensure accountability and transparency.
During the debate members voiced their concern about corruption which they said has become a plague destroying the society and its values. Several members said the extent of corruption in the government has become so serious that it is essential to make necessary safeguards to counter the growing menace. A member said the country is being devastated by corruption in high places and huge commissions are being collected with major projects.
Some members said the bill was a good bill but needed extensive improvement on the basis of the new Constitution and suggestions made by members during the debate. They spoke of several important amendments necessary for the bill and some highlighted on the need for unrestricted dissemination of information of the declared assets. Members said that would serve the purpose of investigating undeclared assets as the media will have the capacity and means for investigative journalism.
Several members suggested including more top tanking of officials of the government whose assets need to be declared. Some members proposed to declare assets of the president, vice president, those holding independent positions in independent commissions, judges and top officials of government companies. Others said there is high corruption involving more junior officials of some offices and there should be proper mechanism to check and counter such corruption and bribery as well. There was also concern about the need for declaring assets of top executives of large private companies as cases of fraud and graft are common happenings in other parts of the world.
All members expressed the dire need of passing such a bill especially at a time of unprecedented national reform especially in the wake of the new Constitution.
Majlis also continued the second reading of the Bill on amalgamating all government agencies on social welfare under one institution proposed by Dhaalu atoll MP Ahmed Nashid. At yesterday's sitting 7 members spoke on the Bill when the Chair adjourned the sitting having run out of allocated time for the sitting.
Yesterday's sitting attended by 40 members was chaired by Speaker of the Majlis Mohamed Shihab. Majlis will meet again this morning at 0900 hours at Majlis chambers.
Majlis gives sweeping powers to Speaker
20th Aug: The People's Majlis has given sweeping powers to the new Speaker Mohamed Shihab to speed up the bills and other matters which have to be passed by the Majlis during the transitional period as stipulated in the new Constitution. Mohamed Shihab who was the first elected speaker pursuant to the new constitutional reforms has proposed an amendment providing this power to him in order to speedily complete the transitional legislative responsibilities.
Several members spoke during the debate of the motion and almost all members supported the amendment to facilitate and fulfill the transitional process. They pointed out there are a lot of work to be done by the Majlis and without giving such powers to the Speaker to carry out these important responsibilities, those tasks may not be completed in time. Few members said the Rules of Procedure of the Majlis already gives these powers to the Speaker, and there was no legal basis to pass such an amendment. They accused the amendment had to be tabled under pressure from the Government which has not submitted the bills according to the rules which allow consideration of bills without going to the usual committee stages on special circumstances.
Members highlighted on the necessary bills on presidential election, election commission, judicial services commission, prosecutor general and appointment of the election commission, judicial services commission and prosecutor general. According to the new Constitution election commission and judicial service commission must be appointed within one month of ratification of the Constitution, that is 6 September 2008, supreme court has to be established with 45 days, that is before 22 September 2008. These independent institutions are mandatory before the presidential election. Presidential election will have to be held before 10 October 2007, while the president elected has to be sworn in and assume duties on 11 November 2008.
In the case of the supreme court, the transitional chapter of the Constitution states a judge decided by the High Court will be in charge of the judiciary until a chief justice is appointed after establishing the supreme court. High Court judge Ahmed Faiz has been selected to be in charge of the judiciary until the chief justice is appointed.
Members speaking in the debate assured the Speaker they will extend all support to completing the transitional tasks of the Majlis accordingly. They urged the Speaker to hold more meetings to facilitate these important works. Speaker Mohamed Shihab announced he will hold Majlis sessions in the afternoon to deliberate on the important bills. He also announce after debating these bills a vote will be taken at 11 am on Sunday 24 August 2008.
National Human Rights Committee Discusses Action Plan
20th Aug: The 6th meeting of the National Human Rights Committee was held today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Today' meeting was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ms. Dunya Maumoon, and was attended by the members of the committee who consist of all Government stakeholders. The focus of today's meeting was mainly on the formulation of the National Human Rights Action Plan, which was announced on Human Rights Day last year. The plan is to be formulated jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Planning and National Development.
The National Human Rights Committee was established in 2007 as a Government advisory body, in the implementation of its international human rights commitments. The Committee encompasses sector wide participation from all Government stakeholders.
Foreign Minister Congratulates the Maldivian High Commissioner in India
21st Aug: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid has extended congratulations to the High Commissioner of Maldives to India, H.E..Liutenant General (RT) Anbaree Abdul Sattar on his reception of the "Rashtriya Ekta Samman" award in a ceremony marking the 65th birthday of the former Prime Minister of India, the Late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. This presentation took place at the India International Centerin New Delhiyesterday
The trophy and the citation were presented by the Minister for Coal, H.E. Mr. Shri Santosh Bagrodiya, together with the All India National Unity Conference, in recognition of High Commissioner Abdul Sattar's exceptional work and sustained commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with India.
Minister Shahid expressed felicitations on behalf of the Government of Maldives, and expressed hope that High Commissioner Abdul Sattar would continue in his efforts to uphold the historical legacy that exists between the Maldives and its regional partner.
The "Rashtriya Ekta Samman" awardhas been presented since 1984, and foreign diplomats to have received this prestigious title in the past were China, Mauritius, Philippines, Russia, South Africa and Uzbekistan.
This event was attended by Defence AttachÃ©' LT. COL, Abdulla Shamaal, and First Secretary, Mr. Zubair Mohamed.
The President proposes the name of Mr. Fazeel Najeeb as the Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority
21st Aug: The President has proposed to the People's Majlis, the name of Mr. Fazeel Najeeb as the Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority.
Mr. Fazeel Najeeb has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from University of Sunderland and a Master's Degree with Distinction, in International Business Law from the University of Hull. He is currently completing his doctorate in Intellectual Property Law from the University of London.
Mr. Fazeel Najeeb has previously served in various posts at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Thoddoo resort put up for tender
21st Aug: Under the government policy of developing tourists resorts in some large inhabited islands, a 200-bed reef resort to be developed in North Ari Atoll Thoddoo has been put up for tender, according to Tourism Ministry.
Tourism ministry informed that the bid documents will be available from the ministry from Tuesday onwards until 28 September 2008. Local parties will be able to purchase bid documents for Rf2000 while the documents will be sold to interested foreign parties at the price of US$300.
According to the ministry participation in the bid requires a US$100,000 bank guarantee, and a pre-bid meeting is scheduled for 22 September to provide further information. The submitted bid proposals will be opened on 29 September in the presence of all bidders, ministry said.
Thoddoo is mainly an agricultural island and is the fourth inhabited island to be announced to be leased for the development of a tourist resort. The three other islands are are Haa Alifu atoll Kelaa and Laamu atoll Gaadhoo. Kaafu atoll Kaashidhoo has already been leased for such a 'reef resort'. The submitted bids for Kelaa and Gaadhoo will be opened on 3 September.
Amending can still be submitted â€“ Elections Office
22nd Aug: Despite the passing of the deadline for sending in amendments to the list of the people who will be reaching 18 years of age by 11 November 2008, individuals and concerned agencies can still submit amendments to the list, according Elections Commissioner's Office.
Commissioner's Office revealed that in the light of the issues received, work is underway to divide up the eligible voter list according to electoral regions. Commissioner's Office, yesterday, issued a statement stating the amendments may be submitted through the office's toll free line 1414. The statement also thanked the efforts of NGOs and government agencies involved in the work of amending and verifying the eligible voter list.
Commissioner's office yesterday revealed that any amendments regarding the list will be accepted until such time as members of the independent elections commissions to be formed under the new constitution assumes office and an election date is announced. Elections office revealed that when the elections date is announced a final list on 18 years voter list will be made public.
According to the elections office more than 600 issues has been submitted with the regard to the 18 year voter list made public by the office.
HRCM issues report on Male' Prison
22nd Aug: Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) following a monitoring visit to the Male' Prison operated by Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services for the purposes of accommodating male inmates and inmates from brought from Maafushi Jail to Male' for medical treatment ,has issued a report on 20th August 2008 highlighting recommendations to the concerned authorities.
According to HRCM, the report is based on inspection of prison facilities, including the cells, inmates' food, and the answers received from the inmates, prison guards as well as senior officials of the prison.
HRCM reports that the general condition of the prison is acceptable although improvements are needed. The commission noted that the inmates' food, security arrangements and general cleanliness is at a satisfactory level.
The visit is conducted under the clause (d) of article 21 of the Human Rights law and that a finding s report along with necessary recommendations has been submitted to concerned departments. HRCM said that it considered the recommendations contained in the report need to be implemented to improve the conditions of Male' prison. Further the commission revealed that the details of the report can be obtained from commission's website.