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Maldives News Bulletin, 27-10-2008
Issue No: 1174

President appoints Board Directors of MIFCO


22nd Oct:
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has appointed members to the Board of Directors to the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Limited (MIFCO). Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture and Marine Resources Mohamed Zuhair was appointed as the Chairman of the Board.

Other members appointed to the Board are: Mohamed Shainee, Assistant Director General of the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture and Marine Resources; Ali Riza, Deputy Managing Director of MIFCO;Adam Saleem, Assistant Managing Director of State Trading Organization; Mohamed Fizan ; Senior Engineer of Maldives Transport and Contracting Company Hussain Shiyam and Assistant Director General of Ministry of Finance and Treasury Fathimath Shifana.

1500 people submit forms for issue of ID cards
22nd Oct: Department of National Registration has revealed that more than 1500 people have submitted applications for issue or renewal of national ID cards since the interim election commission announced the presidential runoff elections.

Chief Executive officer of National Registrations Mohamed Zuhair speaking to Miadhu Daily informed that more than 1500 people have applied for the issue of national Identity cards since election commissions announced the presidential runoff elections and that some 2100 people from atolls have applied for issue of ID cards since 1 October.

He further said barring any unforeseen difficulties, all applications submitted will be completed and ID cards issued by 25 October.

A large number of people submitted applications for issue of national ID card in order to exercise their voting privilege. However due to difficulties in completing all formalities necessary for issue of cards, large number of cards was not processed, causing loss voting privilege for citizens.

 

Maldivian to commence Colombo flights next month


22nd Oct:
Maldivian, the airline division of Island Aviation Services (IAS) is to commence operations to Sri Lanka, according to Managing Director of IAS Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem.

At a news conference held at Kalaafaanu School on Monday night to brief the media on the planned operations to Colombo, Bandhu Saleem said all necessary clearances have been obtained and that Maldivian will operate its first flight to Colombo on 6 November 2008. He further revealed that Maldivian will operate 6 flights per week to Sri Lanka.

"Dash 8 aircrafts will be utilized for all Maldivian flights to Colombo, flights to Colombo will take an estimated flight time of 1 hour ,it will be an all economy operations, there will be no business class, in-flight catering will be similar and of same standard as other airlines operating on this sector, we are offering one way ticket to Colombo at US $ 125.30, this is the cheapest rate currently available on market for the sector, departure from Male' will be at 1800 hours and departure from Colombo will at 2115 hours and we will be operating flights all days of the week expect Wednesdays and Fridays" MD Bandhu said.

IAS informed that frequency of Colombo flights are to be increased in coming December. "We will be increasing our flights for the school holidays, we will be operating 14 flights per week and will operate 3 flights daily, and this is expected to provide some relief to the students and teachers going Sri Lanka for holidays and for those returning home" Bandhu Saleem said.

IAS commenced operations when the former national airline Air Maldives declared bankruptcy in 2000. The airline went regional and commenced flights to Trivandrum / India in January this year. IAS currently operates 14 flights per week to Trivandrum and 20 daily flights to domestic destinations from Male'.

JSC appoints Judges to High Court and Courts in Male'
22nd Oct: Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has revealed that judges has been appointed to High Court and courts of Male' on Tuesday.

According to JSC, Abdul Qanee Mohamed of H. Hulhagu Asseyri was appointed as Senior Judge at the High Court. Abdul Qanee Mohamed was previously serving as Judge at High Court.

Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya of Feyrumaage / Ga Hoadehdhoo Judge at the Family Court was appointed as Senior Judge of Civil Court.

Abdulla Mohamed of Bahaaruge / R. Huldhuffaaru Judge at Criminal Court was appointed as Senior Judge at the same Court and Hassan Saeed was appointed of M Fesdhoo / Irumathee Bai Judge at Children's Court was appointed as Senior Judge at Family Court.

JSC said Abdul Qanee Mohamed who was appointed as the Senior Judge at High Court served as Judge at Civil Court from 2000 to 2004 and from 2004 onwards was serving in High Court as Judge. Judge Qanee is a graduate of Al Azhar University of Egypt and holds a bachelors degree in Sharia and law.

Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya appointed Senior Judge at Civil Court has served from 1997 on wards as legal officer at justice ministry, Judge and Special Judge. Shuaib Zakariyya is a graduate of International Islamic University of Malaysia and holds a master's degree in comparative law.

Abdulla Mohamed appointed as Senior Judge at Criminal Court has been serving as judge at Criminal Court from 2004 onwards. Judge Abdulla Mohamed is a graduate from Al Azhar University of Egypt and holds a bachelors degree law.

Hassan Saeed appointed as Senior Judge at Family Court from 2001 onwards has served as judge at Criminal Court, Family Court and Children Court. Judge Saeed is a graduate from Kuwait University and holds a bachelors degree in Islamic Law.

 

CSC displaces Shaneez for openly engaging in politics


22nd Oct:
Civil Service Commission (CSC) has revealed that Ahmed Shaaneez, a civil servant employed at Drug Rehabilitation Center established at S. Gan who gave information at DRP news conference has been demoted.

CSC revealed that Ahmed Shaaneez employed as Assistant Under Secretary at Drug Rehabilitation Center in S. Gan operated by National Narcotics Control Bureau has been demoted to Secretary grade 2. CSC informed that the action was taken as disciplinary measure under article 34 of Civil service Act for violation of article 53 of the Civil Service Act.

In an interview given to Television Maldives (TVM) last night, Shaaneez severely criticized the commission's decision. Shaneez in the TVM expressed that he had already sent in his resignation.

Maldives participates in Asia Travel Fair
23rd Oct: Officials from the Maldivian Embassy in China have participated at the "Asia Travel Fair" held in Yantai, China from 17 to 19 October, according to a foreign ministry statement.

An exhibitions stall at the fair disseminated information regarding the tourism industry of the Maldives to the members of the Chinese travel and business community as well as other visitors to the fair. According to the Maldivian Embassy the exhibition stall attracted visitors with information on Maldivian resorts, details of travel agents was available along with leaflets on tourism in the country as well as souvenirs. Documentaries about the country and the tourism sector were also displayed.

The Maldives is gaining momentum as one of the top tourist destinations in the world and is expanding clout in the international tourist market. According to foreign ministry Chinese visitors are among the largest group of travelers to the Maldives from Asian countries.

Maldives was represented at the Fair by the First Secretary of the Maldives Embassy in China Aiminath Shabeena and Second Secretary Fathimath Najwa.

Bids for development of resort in Nolhivarumfaru scheduled for 2 Nov
23rd Oct: Tourism ministry has informed that bid opening ceremony for bidding opened on 29 September 2008 for the second time for the development of tourism training resort and hotel in Hdh Nolhivarumfaru will be on 2 November 2008.

The bidding for the development of training resort in Hdh Nolhivarumfaru was initially was opened on 23 July 2008 but was later cancelled. Ministry later reopened bidding for the development of training resort and a 200 bed hotel was re opened on 29 September 2008.
Under the government initiative to attract as many Maldivians as possible to take up carriers in tourism industry by providing necessary skills and training, training resorts are to be developed in north and south of the country.

Ministry of Tourism has revealed that opening of the bids submitted for the development of a 150 bed hotel and a training resort in Laamu atoll Gan was held at Moo Kai Hotel on Monday 18 August 2008. Bids were opened at 1300 hours and three parties out of the seven who bought bid documents submitted proposals.

According to the ministry out of the 3 parties, the bid was won by Premier Equity Pvt. Ltd and subsequently notification of the award was given on Thursday 25 September 2008. Since then Premier Equity Pvt Ltd has paid US $ 2.7 Million as advance payment. Following the payment of advance payment, lease agreement was signed on 28 September 2008

 

HDC opens bids for sale& lease of Land from Hulhumale'


23rd Oct:
Hulhumale' Development Corporation (HDC) has held the bid opening meeting for the sale and lease of Land from Hulhumale' to the private sector for development of Apartment Complexes on Wednesday at Nala Hiya Hotel.

According to HDC when the deadline for the submission of bid proposals expired at 1300 hours on Wednesday 22 October 2008, 4 parties submitted seven proposals.

The bid announced on 26 August 2008 offers 8 plots of land for sale and 5 plots of land will be offered for lease. The approximate size of the plots of land is 2400 square feet. As per the Information for bids issued by HDC, only Maldivian individuals, and legal entities with 100% Maldivian ownership can participate in the bidding. Land plots for lease are to be leased to the highest bidder and successful bidder is required to construct 10 flat apartment complexes in the land within 15 months of signing of the lease agreement.

HDC said bid documents were sold from 28 August 2008 to 25 September and that during the period 14 parties purchased 24 bid documents.

The terms and conditions for the bidding of the plots of land on lease and sale basis are determined in close consultation with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. The plots of land offered for sale are to be sold at a fixed price of MRf 475 per square foot. Bidding parties for the land on sale basis will be evaluated based on the prices at which they propose to sell the apartment units to be developed on the plots of land. The party quoting prices leading to the lowest average price will be awarded the highest points.

The land on lease basis will be offered on a lease period of 25 years and the successful bidder will be chosen based on the proposed land rents for the plots of land, with the highest points to be awarded to the highest proposed rent.

According to HDC the main objective of leasing and selling land to private parties for apartment development is to open up opportunities to the private sector to contribute in the achievement of the goals and objectives of the National Housing Policy. In the National Housing Policy, it is stated that in order to facilitate increasing supply of housing units to cater for the backlog in the central region, a system of allocation of land for housing development through private developers is to be pursued.

 

FDA bans Malaysian munchies crackers


23rd Oct:
Hong Kong Food and Safety Authority have declared that Munchies Mini Crackers with Peanut Butter, Munchies Mini Crackers with Cheese Cream and Munchies the Original Sugar Crackers manufactured by Munchies Food Industry of Malaysia contains the harmful chemical melamine according to Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA).

Further MFDA also revealed that in addition to the Malaysian Munchies products mentioned, Julie's Wheat Crackers produced by Perfect Food Manufacturing of Malaysia also contains the harmful chemical melamine as per information released by Food and Safety Authority of Hong Kong.

MFDA informed that the authority has instructed Trade and Economic Ministry to impose an import ban on these products until the safety of these products can be assured. Further MFDA has also asked Trade Ministry to ban sale of these products and has instructed CD Services, the distributor and retailer of Munchies Food Industries in Maldives to recall the products.

MFDA has also urged the general public to refrain from using these products as it contains harmful chemical melamine.

 

Vimla Construction signs agreement to construct 298 houses


23rd Oct:
Contract Agreement has been signed for the construction of 298 houses in Viliingili, Maamendhoo, Nilandhoo and Dhandhoo of Ga atoll for the 2004 tsunami victims.

Planning Ministry on Wednesday revealed that the agreement to construct 298 houses had been signed and the project awarded to Vimla Construction on Tuesday. The project on behalf of the government was signed by Assistant Director General of Housing and Infra Structure Redevelopment (HIR)Anwar Ali and on behalf of Vimla Construction by the company's Managing Director Ali Rasheed.

According to Planning Ministry the project is to be completed in 420 working days and that 75 houses are to be built in Villingilli, 84 in Maamendhoo, 51 in Nilandhoo, and 88 in Dhaandhoo. The contract value of the project is Rf. 220 million.

The project is funded under a loan agreement from the Saudi Fund. Planning ministry further revealed that, under the government initiative to provide permanent shelters for the 2004 tsunami victims, 86.9 percent of houses planned for completion in 2008, will be completed by end of the year.

 

US grants aid for preservation of Kashidhoo archaeological site


24th Oct
: American Ambassador to Maldives and Sri Lanka Robert Blake, Jr. and Special Advisor to the National Centre for Linguistic and Historical Research, Madulhu Mohamed Waheed have recently launched a U.S. Government funded program to help preserve the K. Kashidhoo archaeological site , according to statement issued by US Embassy in Colombo.

The statement informed that the project valued at Rf. 370,000 is financed by the 2008 U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation, a worldwide initiative of the U.S State Department to assist countries in preserving their endangered historic sites and arts.

Kaafu atoll Kashidhoo archaeological site is one of the most historically significant on the island. It is the largest pre-Islamic remnant uncovered on Kaashidhoo; excavations have uncovered parts of a Buddhist Monastery that existed in the 7th and 8th Centuries AD. The project focuses on conserving the area that has already been excavated, helping to protect the site from erosion and weathering. Since the site is built almost entirely of coral stone, the conservation work is essential to making sure that generations of Maldivians can continue to view this important site, US Embassy statement expressed.

Since 2001, the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation has supported more than 500 projects worldwide. This is the second grant Maldives has received from the U.S. government in order to preserve a Maldivian cultural site. In 2005, the United States contributed roughly Rf. 280,000 for the restoration and conservation of Eid Mosque located in Male'.

After exchanging the documents pertaining to the grant with Madulhu Waheed, Ambassador Blake said, "I congratulate all those who are involved in this project. We wish you continued success in the preservation of the important cultural heritage of the Maldives. We at the Embassy are proud to play an integral role in this important project."

 

Maldives & China signs housing agreement


24th Oct:
Maldives and China has signed an agreement for the construction of 47 housing units in Hdh Atoll. Nolhivaranfaru at ceremony held at Foreign Ministry yesterday.

The project has been contracted to the China Shanghai Group Corporation, and will be funded by a Chinese grant aid of RMB ¥40,000,000.00 (Renminbi Yuan). The agreement was signed by the Dr. Husain Niyaz, Executive Director at the Department of External Resources on behalf of the Maldives government and Guo Rushaan, Managing Director at the China Shanghai Group Corporation on behalf of the Government of China.

Yesterday's ceremony was also attended by senior officials at the Department of External Resources, as well as officials from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Ministry of Planning and National Development.

 

MNCCI holds emergency meetings


24th Oct:
Emergency meetings to discuss any changes that may adversely affect the country's economy and its likely effects are ongoing, Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MNCCI) has revealed.

Vice Chairmen of MNCCI Ismail Asif briefing the media on the ongoing emergency sessions said the main topics of discussions are the country's current economic crisis and difficulties in obtaining US dollars from local banks and foreign banks operating in the country. He said the discussions will focus on finding speedy solutions to the problems as traders are facing difficulties due to dollar shortages.

"Traders are facing huge problems in making foreign currency payments, so what we are doing is trying to assess likely effects of this on the country's economy, what can be done to solve the issues and what are the reasons which led to the shortages." Asif said.
According to information received the Maldives branch of Western Union, an international money transfer service, has been closed for over 2 weeks. Further MDP Interim President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki speaking at a news conference organized by MDP Alliance has warned the people of impending bankruptcy of Bank Maldives. He has said that Bank of Maldives is facing bankruptcy due government sanctioned loans by the bank.

 

75 pc of 504 housing units complete - HDC


24th Oct:
Hulhumale' Development Corporation (HDC) has revealed that 75 percent of the development of the 504 housing units has been completed.

HDC informed that total cost of the project is US $ 17 million and 504 flats comprising 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom flats are housed in 63 buildings located in the first and second residential neighborhoods. 304 flats are located in the first residential neighborhood and 120 flats in the second residential neighborhood.

Concrete works, masonry works, plastering, roofing and electrical wiring and plumbing has been completed and that at present final finishing is going on, HDC said. In this regard 65 percent of paint work is complete.

The development of the 504 housing units is expected to be completed within the next 2 months. Although the project is an HDC undertaking the construction work was contracted out to Aima Construction.

According to HDC, the corporation hopes to commence allocation process of the flats early 2009.

 

Fazeel Najeeb appointed as MMA Chief


24th Oct:
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has appointed Fazeel Najeeb as the Governor General of Maldives Monetary Authority. Fazeel Najeeb was appointed to the post after consulting the People's Majlis, in accordance with law number 2007/3.

People's Majlis endorsed Fazeel Najeeb of M. Fashala proposed for the Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) at the 4th sitting of the 3rd session held on 14 October 2008. 20 members out of 32 members in attendance voted in favor of accepting Fazeel Najeeb while 11 members voted against and 1 member abstained.

Fazeel Najeeb held the post of Director international cooperation at the trade ministry before proceeding to UK to pursue studies for a Ph D. in intellectual property law. He has earlier accomplished his first degree in economics and subsequently Masters Degree in international business law also in the UK. Najeeb's name was submitted to the Majlis by president Gayoom on 21 August 2008.

Fazeel who hails from the Southern island atoll of Fuahmulah is seen as a good and efficient administrator. He is the brother of Fuahmulah member of the Majlis Maseeh who also held the post of Deputy Minister in the President's Office which he resigned in August to remain as a member of the Majlis to comply with the new Constitution.

The post of Governor of MMA was previously held by Abdullah Jihad. Jihad was appointed the new Finance Minister on 15 July following former minister Gasim Ibrahim's resignation. President Gayoom proposed the name of former State Finance Minister Arif Hilmy for appointment of the MMA chief, but Arif declined the offer soon after. Nominations of MMA Governor and Deputy Governor have to be endorsed by the People's Majlis before the President can appoint them to the posts. Aishath Zahira was recently appointed as the Deputy Governor of MMA.

2 cases of violations of electoral laws sent for prosecution
24th Oct: Election Commission (EC) has revealed that the commission has sent two separate cases of violations of Presidential Elections Law and General Electoral rules and regulations to Prosecutor General for prosecution under relevant laws of the country.
The Commission revealed that the 2 cases sent to the Prosecutor General are a case submitted to the commission involving Haveeru, a local daily news paper and a case submitted against MDP coalition's candidate Mohamed Nasheed (Anni).

Haveeru daily newspaper is being prosecuted for publishing presidential race campaign advertisements after 1800 hours on 7 October 2008. The case against Haveeru was previously rejected by Prosecutor General for incomplete investigations. According to electoral rules, all campaign activities including publishing and distribution of campaign materials, was banned from 0600 pm on 7 October to 0600 on 9 October.

The other is a matter reported to the commission involving campaigning by Presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) near the polling stations when the voting was ongoing on Wednesday 8 October 2008.

At a news conference held at the main election headquarters yesterday, Election Commissioner Mohamed Ibrahim revealed that the case involving Haveeru daily was submitted to the Prosecutor General along with all necessary papers while the case involving Anni was submitted without any word from Anni.

According to information received yesterday High Court has accepted the Prosecutor General's case against Anni.

 

Allegations on budget intended to mislead people - Jihad


24th Oct:
The opposition's allegations over state treasury and government budget is spurious allegations intended to mislead and scare the Maldivian people, DRP member and finance minister Abdulla Jihad has said.

Finance minister Jihad speaking at the media briefing held at Maumoon 2008 campaign office rejected the opposition allegations as spurious and unfounded. He said the 2008 state budget has a deficit of Rf. 2.4 Billion due to 2 mega projects, Ha atoll Transshipment Harbor and reclamation of Kaafu atoll Gulhi Harbor expected to generate funds failed to materialize. He also said responsible steps have been taken counter the deficit.

The opposition claims that government borrowed Rf 80 Million from the national telecom service provider Dhiraagu is not a loan as claimed by opposition leaders but that it was amount due to the government from Dhiraagu, minister said. He said several other companies with government interests owe money to the government.

Responding opposition claims that the state reserve went down from US $ 308 million to US $ 258 million, Jihad said the reason for the decrease due to a loan issued to State Electric Company (STELCO) due to recent global high oil prices.
State minister for finance and treasury Rilwan Shareef also spoke at the media briefing. Speaking on the opposition arguments that foreign donors have stopped their aid Rilwan said that the government is always working on getting foreign aid. In this the state minister noted that government was working on getting aid from France and Luxemburg.

 

The President says that over the past four decades the Maldives has been a beneficiary of the developmental assistance of the United Nations system


24th Oct:
The President has said that over the past four decades the Maldives has been a beneficiary of the developmental assistance of the United Nations system. He made the statement in a message on the occasion of United Nations Day, which is being commemorated in the Maldives today.
The President pointed out that the United Nations Day was an opportune moment for us to renew our commitment to the recognition of the values and principles enshrined in the United Nations' Charter.
He said that the Maldives remains grateful to the UN and members for their continuous cooperation towards our developmental agenda. Further, he said that since gaining membership of the United Nations, the Maldives has time and time again crossed over to new heights in world affairs showing capacity despite its small size. He added that the United Nations continues to be an important platform to the Maldives and other members in building international recognition.
Noting that the international community is facing a myriad of issues of global significance which can be addressed through concerted united action by all Member States, the President said that we need to add momentum to the ongoing United Nations reform efforts to make the Organization heed more effectively and efficiently to the new and emerging obstacles of the twenty first century.
In the message, the President said that the Maldives has always believed in and depended on the founding values of the United Nations, which provide for the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small. He also urged member states to act collectively to strengthen multilateral efforts in addressing our global challenges.

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