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Maldives News Bulletin, 30-11-2008
Issue No: 1179

The President says that former President Nasir had rendered numerous services to the Maldives


23rd Nov:
President Nasheed has said that the former President Ibrahim Nasir NGIV had rendered numerous services to the Maldives. The President made this statement while speaking to the media today at the President's Office.
The President also highlighted on the life of late President Nasir, spent abroad during the past 30 years.
Speaking further, the President said that without forgiveness and reconciliation, it would not be possible for us to achieve the exemplary democracy that we hope for.
The President also prayed to the Almighty Allah for His eternal blessings on the soul of the dear departed and to grant the members of the bereaved family the fortitude and strength to bear this great personal loss.

 

The body of former President Ibrahim Nasir brought to the country


23rd Nov:
The body of former President Ibrahim Nasir has been brought to the country at 12:45 this afternoon.
President Nasheed and Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed met with the family of late Ibrahim Nasir who came to the country with the body. The President and Vice President also conveyed their condolences to the members of the bereaved family.
Former President Nasir's body was escorted to the Presidential Palace Theemug� by the Bearer Party of Maldives National Defence Force, where the body was laid-in-state. The body was followed by the Speaker of the People's Majlis, Chief Justice, Members of the Cabinet, State Dignitaries, Judges of the Supreme Court, Presidents of independent Commissions, Deputy Ministers and Senior Officials of the President's Office.

 

Burial rites for the late President Ibrahim Nasir held


24th Nov:
Burial rites for the late President Ibrahim Nasir were held this morning. The funeral prayer was held after the Fajr prayer at Masjid-ul Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaanu-al Auzam. After the funeral prayers, late President Nasir was buried with full honours at the Friday Mosque.
After the coffin was taken to the Friday Mosque, the flag that draped the coffin was folded and presented to President Nasheed by the Commander of the Bearer Party. After that, President Nasheed presented the flag to Ismail Nasir, son of late President Nasir. As the coffin was lowered in to the tomb, a funeral call by the Band Party was played. After that, 7 gun salutes were given which was followed by the National Anthem played by the brass band of MNDF.
The funeral services were attended by members of the late Ibrahim Nasir's family, President Nasheed, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed, Speaker of the People's Majlis, Mr. Mohamed Shihab; Chief Justice, Uz. Abdulla Saeed;, Members of the Cabinet; State Dignitaries, Judges of the Supreme Court; Members of the People's Majlis; State Ministers, Presidents of independent Commissions; Deputy Ministers and Senior Officials of the President's Office.
The funeral prayer was also attended by a large number of members of the general public.

 

The President says that the government plans to cut import duty from essential food items for good health, medicines and diesel


24th Nov:
The President has announced that the government has planed to cut import duty from the essential food items for good health, medicines and diesel. The President made this announcement at a press conference held today at the President's Office to inform the media on the estimated budget for the year 2009.
In the first estimated budget for the year 2008, the government had estimated Rufiya 9.1 billion as income. However, the government now estimates Rufiya 7.4 billion as income while the estimated expenditure for 2008 is Rufiya 8.7 billion. As a result at the end of this year the country would incur a deficit of Rufiya 1.3 billion to Rufiya 1.5 billion.
The President also said that for the year 2009 the government had proposed a budget of Rufiya 13 billion. He also said that the government had included a monthly pension of Rf 2000 for every Maldivian above 65 years of age. Also to avoid people from seeking sponsorship for medical treatments, an insurance coverage for an initial one hundred thousand people had been included in the budget.
The President was joined at the Press Conference by the Minister of Finance and Treasury, Mr. Ali Hashim and the Minister of State for Finance and Treasury, Mr. Ahmed As-ad.

 

Books of condolences in memory of the late President Ibrahim Nasir opened


25th Nov:
Books of condolences in memory of the late President Ibrahim Nasir, will be placed at the President's Office, Government Ministries, Atoll Offices and Island Offices. Books of condolences have already been placed in Maldives' Missions in other countries. The books of condolences will be open for all well-wishers from 9am to 2pm tomorrow and the day after.

 

MP Nashid calls for protection of rights of President Nasir's family


25th Nov:
Dhaalu atoll MP ADK Ahmed Nashid has called on the government to protect the rights of former President late Ibrahim Nasir family. He made the call speaking at the 16 th sitting of the third session of the People's Majlis held on Monday morning.

Speaking during the time opened for members to express their sentiments on the passing away of former President Ibrahim Nasir, KCMG, NGIV, Nashid expressed that due to political turbulences that followed President Nasir's resignation in 1978 and his subsequent migration to another country, the government had nationalized his assets and property.

Presidential appointee to the Majlis, Ahmed Riyaz expressed that former President Nasir's numerous and valuable services to the nation have been covered up.

Male' MP Ibrahim Ismail expressed that the only president to follow rule of law has been President Nasir and that he brought equality to the people.
Lh MP Mohamed Solih stated that former President late Ibrahim Nasir passed away showing valuable lessons which we should all take examples.

Presidential appointee Mohamed Rasheed Hassan expressed President Nasir laid the foundation of modern Maldives and that not much is written about Nasir's services in school children text books.

Laamu MP Moosa Manik stated that services of country's leaders are not a thing that is to be valued after their death. Members yesterday expressed their gratitude to the government for facilitating the funeral rites of former President Nasir in the manner in which it was held.

 

2008 budget to face a shortfall of 1.5 billion


25th Nov:
President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) has expressed that 2008 state budget will face a shortfall of 1.5 billion rufiyaa as most of the envisaged government revenue was not forthcoming as well as due to high government expenditure.

Briefing the media on the current economic situation and the estimated 2009 budget President Nasheed expressed that previous government has signed contracts with various contractors without any consideration to the government revenue. He also noted the many promises made by the previous government to the people.

President Nasheed said that despite the circumstances, his government will honor the previous government's pledges and decisions as it involved the people.
President expressed that expenditure without parliament approval was unconstitutional and that his government is now faced with this burden. However Nasheed expressed that he assumed the presidency with full confidence that he can take on such heavy burdens.
President Nasheed also gave assurance that necessary funds to bridge the gap will be generated.

 

2008 budget to face a shortfall of 1.5 billion


25th Nov:
President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) has expressed that 2008 state budget will face a shortfall of 1.5 billion rufiyaa as most of the envisaged government revenue was not forthcoming as well as due to high government expenditure.

Briefing the media on the current economic situation and the estimated 2009 budget President Nasheed expressed that previous government has signed contracts with various contractors without any consideration to the government revenue. He also noted the many promises made by the previous government to the people.

President Nasheed said that despite the circumstances, his government will honor the previous government's pledges and decisions as it involved the people.
President expressed that expenditure without parliament approval was unconstitutional and that his government is now faced with this burden. However Nasheed expressed that he assumed the presidency with full confidence that he can take on such heavy burdens.
President Nasheed also gave assurance that necessary funds to bridge the gap will be generated.

 

Government to extend lease of tourist resorts to 50 years


25th Nov:
The Government will be extending the lease of tourist resorts and other islands leased for industrial proposes to 50 years as a means to encourage investments and growth. This was announced by new President Mohamed Nasheed yesterday during a media meeting held in the President's Office. The President was speaking on major Government policies and decisions with regard to its budget for 2009. Presently resorts are leased for a maximum period of 35 years if the investment is more than US$10 million.

President Nasheed who assumed office just two weeks ago after winning the first multi-party presidential election has said his Government will be working to provide improved and affordable services to the people and accelerate economic development and industries. The President said his Government will extend lease of tourist resorts and other islands developed for various economic and industrial purposes. President Nasheed said there is no plan to increase the rent of resorts. The former government also attempted to propose a bill to the People's Majlis to increase the lease of resorts to 50 years, but the proposal met with stiff resistance from some quarters. The constitution states islands of Maldives can be leased for 90 years.

Investors have raised concern about the lease period of resorts and other industrial islands saying sustainable investment was not possible because of the short leasing period and difficulties in getting soft finance for such projects.

President Nasheed also announced as part of his government's budget policy the government budget will be based on definite income. Nasheed said the government will introduce business tax and the necessary legislation will be followed soon. The Government has also decided to provide health insurance to 100,000 people next year. The President also confirmed his pledge to provide a monthly pension of around MRf 2,000 to every one above 65 years will also be honored from the 2009 budget.

The President who was joined by his Minister of Finance Ali Hashim and State Minister Ahmed Assad said the former government's budget for next year was totaling to MRf 22 million, but because of the expected revenue for the year, the budget of his Government will be around MRf 13 billion.

The Government has said there is an accumulated debt of MRf 2 billion from the former Government. President Nasheed also said the budget for 2008 will have a deficit of MRf 1.3 to 1.5 billion by the end of the year, but he hopes to raise the amount needed to relieve this deficit.

 

The President meets the Members of the Board of Directors of STELCO


26th Nov:
President Nasheed has today met with the Board of Directors of STELCO. Speaking at the meeting, the President stressed on the importance of improving services and the efficiency of the Company, and said that the Government was seeking an overseas joint venture partner. The President also called on the Members of the Board of Directors to actively participate in the management of the Company.

 

President Nasheed has established the National Parole Board


26th Nov:
President Nasheed has established the National Parole Board.
Dr. Abdulla Waheed was appointed as the Chairman of the Board. Other members of the Board are; Dr. Ahmed Razi, Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Yoosuf, Uz. Mohamed Anil, Ms. Fathimath Sofia Rasheed, Ms. Jeniffer Latheef, Ms. Sidhatha Shareef and Ms. Fathimath Afiya
The first meeting of the Board has now been held. At the meeting, the members discussed the ways to carry out the work of the Board.

 

The President says that the decentralization issue would be sent to the People's Majlis


26th Nov:
President Nasheed has said that the Government would send the issue of decentralisation of administration in the Atolls, to the People's Majlis. The President made this statement while speaking to the media at a press conference held at the President's Office today.
Noting that no specific law yet existed in the Maldives on the decentralisation of administration of Atolls, the President said that therefore, the right way to implement this undertaking would be to seek the approval of the People's Majlis.
The President was joined at the press conference by the Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed and Special Envoy of the President
Mr. Ibrahim Hussain Zaki.

 

Majlis endorse a salary of Rf100, 000 for the President, Rf75, 000 for Vice President


26th Nov:
People's Majlis on Tuesday has passed a monthly salary of Rf100, 000 to the President and Rf 75,000 to Vice President.

At the 17 th sitting of the third session of the People's Majlis, 2 proposals were moved and supported. The first proposal was put forward by Addu MP Ibrahim Shareef and supported by Thaa MP Mohamed Shareef. Addu MP Shareef proposed a monthly salary of Rf 100,000 for the President and a monthly salary of Rf 75,000 to the Vice President.

The second proposal was put forward by Laamu MP Ilyas Ibrahim which was supported by Presidential appointee Mohamed Rasheed Hussain. The proposal proposes a monthly salary of Rf 150,000 for the President and a monthly salary of Rf75, 000 to Vice President.
When put to vote, the first proposal was passed by Majlis majority with 16 MPs out of 31 in attendance voting in favor. 8 members voted against while 3 members abstained. With the endorsement of the first proposal, the second proposal was not voted on.

Speaking during the debate time, Presidential appointee Mohamed Rasheed Husain noted that Auditor General's salary and the President's salary should be at the same level. Dhaalu MP Ahmed Shiyam noted that President and Vice President's salaries should be more than the salaries afforded to independent commission members.

 

Government submits Rf 13.6 Billion budget for 2009


26th Nov:
The newly appointed government of President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) has submitted an Rf 13.6 Billion state budget for year 2009 to the People's Majlis.

The budget was presented to the 17 th sitting of the third session held on Tuesday by Minister of Finance and Treasury Ali Hasim. The total amount of the proposed budget for year 2009 by the government is Rf 13,648,951,740.

Finance minister Ali Hashim in presenting the proposed budget for 2009 expressed that the budget will face a shortfall of Rf 5.793 Million and that it can be balanced with the anticipated revenue of Rf 1.217 Million to be received from revenue generated by extending lease period of resorts; anticipated revenue of Rf 225 million from corporate tax and Rf 4.351 million anticipated as foreign aid. The minister noted that extending the lease period of the resorts depends of legislation yet to be endorsed by the Majlis.

Minister said 73.4percent of the budget is on administrative expenses and that the budget also takes in to account funds given as pensions and retirees. The amount allocated for environmental protection has been increased Rf 291 Million. The 2008 state budget allocated Rf 157 Million. Defense expenses were reduced to 4.2 percent of the budget from this year's figure of 5.2 percent.

The amount allocated for education was increased from Rf 1.538 million in this year's budget to Rf 2.432 Million in the proposed budget for 2009.

Rf 3.628 Million has been allocated as capital expenses which is 3.4 percent higher than the amount allocated in this year's budget.

In contrast to 2008 budget, Rf 430.2 Million from government earnings as import duty has been omitted. The 430.2 Million includes Rf 105 million which the government will loose by waiving import duty on essential food items for a healthy living; Rf 10.5 million by waiving duty on medicines and Rf 314 million by waiving duty on diesel.

Finance Minister Ali Hashim expressed that national GDP will increase by 4.5 percent as the fishing has improved and more tourists are expected to arrive.

The 2009 state budget allocates Rf 2797.2 Million for general services and 47.9 percent of the budget has been allocated for social services.

Finance ministry also revealed that despite the budget proposal, the budget will be revised in March next year.

 

20,000 Maldivian women abused: Health & Family ministry


26th Nov:
More than 20,000 Maldivian women are subject to abuse of sorts according to a survey conducted by Ministry of Health and Family.

Director at Ministry of Health and Family Fathimath Yumna speaking to Miadhu Daily revealed that due to increasing number of cases of abuses and injustices being reported to the ministry, a survey was undertaken in 2006 and that the results indicated more than 20,000 Maldivian women were subject to abuses of various sorts.

Yumna revealed that according to survey, one out of every three women between ages 15 to 49 are a victim of physical or sexual abuse. According to Yumna, Maldivian women are subject to various forms of abuse from the moment of birth till death. Even elderly women and children are also subject to various forms of abuse and injustices by family members and others.

Yumna noted that most of the abuses come within the family and that the 2006 survey conducted globally showed the sexual abuse of young women was especially high.

She noted that although the number of women under abuse in 2006 remained at 20,000, the number has increased considerably since then and that number of complaints being reported is increasing with increased awareness in atolls.

In this regard five cases were reported to concerned authorities between January and August this year, Yumna said. She said most cases reported are of sexual and physical abuse.
Yesterday, 25 November is the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women which is being marked globally. Various programs are held across the country to mark the day. This year's theme is Human Rights for Women; Human Rights for all.

 

The President meets the Members of the Board of Directors of STO


26th Nov:
President Nasheed has today met with the Board of Directors of State Trading Organisation Public Limited Company.
Speaking at the meeting, the President called on the Members of the Board to work to make available for the people, essential items at lower prices. He also called on the Members to actively participate in the management of the Company.

 

The President, Vice President and former President Gayoom sign the book of condolence placed at the President's Office, following the passing away of former President Ibrahim Nasir


27th Nov:
President Nasheed, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed and former President Gayoom have today signed the book of condolence placed at the President's Office, following the passing away of former President Ibrahim Nasir. The Special Envoy of the President Mr. Ibrahim Hussain Zaki also signed the book of condolence.
On the condolence book, President Nasheed wrote that President Nasir was a notable politician who had rendered numerous services to the people of Maldives.
Signing the condolence book, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed extended sincere condolences to members of President Nasir's family.
Former President Gayoom highlighted on the many significant contributions of the late President Nasir, to the country and wrote that his passing away had been a great shock to the nation.
The Books of Condolences that was placed at the President's Office, Government Ministries, Maldives' Missions in other countries, Atoll Offices and Island Offices, following the passing away of the late President Nasir have been closed today.

 

The President appoints Senior Government Officials


27th Nov:
President Nasheed has appointed Mr. Mohamed Latheef as the Ambassador for Human Rights; Sh. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed as the Minister of State for Islamic Affairs and Mr. Abdulla Shahid as the Minister of State for Defence and National Security.
Speaking at the ceremony held at the President's Office to present the Letters of Appointment to the new appointees, the President called on them to fulfil their responsibilities and to work to prosper the life of the people.

 

Seeking foreign aid main task of the ministry - Dr. Shaheed


27th Nov:
The foreign minister of the new government Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has said the most important work of the ministry presently in is to source the much required foreign aid needed for the country's development.

At a press conference held at press room Fansavees/ Dharubaaruge to brief the media on the Government's new foreign policy priorities, Dr. Shaheed said, that this year's budget is expected to face severe shortfalls and that it is likely 2009 budget may suffer the same fate.

"As such if urgent steps are not taken to seek foreign aid the country may suffer disastrous consequences, so we have to give priority to seek foreign aid and assistance" foreign minister said."

Minister said the most important work of his ministry in the first 100 days will be sourcing foreign aid and exploring all avenues and doors for such aid.

Minister emphasized that work has already been initiated and is well underway, and that arrangements have already been made to visit some friendly countries.

Minister Shaheed highlighted the importance of reducing government expenditure. In this regard, he stated that the Foreign Service would be restructured to streamline cost efficiency, requiring the reorganization of the Ministry as well as its missions abroad. He noted some embassies established by the previous government will be closed down but will discuss the matter with concerned foreign government before any closure. He pointed out embassies in Washington and Singapore as likely offices for closure.

Continuing, the Minister stressed for urgent need to mobilize foreign assistance and commercial opportunities to mitigate the worst effects of the current economic crisis.

Minister Shaheed also spoke about possible effects Maldives may face due to graduation from the list Least Developed Countries (LDC) in 2011.

"It is incumbent on UN countries to provide assistance and aid to countries included in the list, when providing aid , foreign countries will consider which country is the most deserving, so they look to the LDC list, even in trade, important privileges are given to LDC countries" Shaheed expressed.

He expressed the need to be prepared to face the challenges of the graduation from the list. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem, and Mohamed Naseer, Permanent Secretary, also participated in the media briefing.

 

High Commissioner to Pak inaugurates SAARC development training program


28th Nov:
Maldives High Commissioner designated to Pakistan Adam Hassan has inaugurated a training course on SAARC Development Goals: Initiatives for Poverty Reduction in South Asia, according to Foreign Office.

According to Foreign Ministry the event, organized and held at the SAARC Human Resources Development Centre in Islamabad, commenced on the 24th of this month.

The Training course is designed to support the implementation of SAARC Development Goals or SDGs by assessing its progress in the SAARC Member States and by assessing the technical feasibility in terms of individual and institutional capacities in the SAARC Member states.

The Training Course is attended by 22 participants from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and is scheduled to conclude on 14 December 2008.

 

Commonwealth observer group issues Final Report on Maldives Presidential elections


28th Nov
: Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma on Wednesday has released the Final Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group which observed the Maldives Presidential Election on 8 October 2008 and the subsequent run-off elections on 28 October.

Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, in the report expressed that "The Commonwealth Observer Group found that the process was credible overall and met many of the benchmarks for democratic elections to which Maldives has committed itself".

Sharma noted that "the high level of transparency, inclusiveness, determination and interest of the electorate to participate in such large numbers stood out as positive features".

Sharma also encouraged the Maldives government to implement the Group's recommendations for further strengthening the electoral process and procedures ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, expected to be held by 15 February 2009. In particular, issues relating to the process of voter registration and compilation of the voter list.

Secretary General Sharma commended Maldivian people for the peaceful conduct of the first ever multi-party Presidential elections, and the spirit of co-operation and inclusiveness which marked the transition to a new government.

"The Commonwealth will continue to support Maldives in its efforts to build on this spirit of political co-operation and dialogue to help create a culture of democracy and to further consolidate democratic institutions and procedures in Maldives" Secretary General Sharma said.

The Report was completed and signed by all members of the Commonwealth Observer Group prior to their departure from Maldives. It was presented to the Commonwealth Secretary-General by the leader of the Group, Owen Arthur MP, former Prime Minister of Barbados.

 

President wishes to maintain close ties with media: Zaki


28th Nov:
President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) wants to maintain close relationship with the media, Special Envoy of the President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki has said.

In an exclusive interview given to Miadhu Daily, Special Envoy Zaki expressed that President Nasheed that meaningful reform can only be introduced by listening to the people and that media is a group which maintains close links to the people. As such proving adequate responses to the media is of paramount importance to President Nasheed.

Zaki expressed that President believes that issues being raised by the media are issues stemming from the people as media is in a position to maintain excellent ties with the people. Zaki stated that despite the President's intentions to be with the people, it simply cannot be done. He said as such it is president's wish to fully address media questions to provide a better picture to the people.

Special Envoy Zaki further said that MDP coalition government always gives great importance to the media and that media are always welcome to put forward their questions or issues.

Zaki said that it is regrettable that some people still are of the opinion that President should only respond to certain type of questions and that such people should consider the consequences of adhering to such policies during the previous administration.

 

Health Minister to change public opinion on welfare services


28th Nov:
Dr. Aiminath Jameel the newly appointed Health Minister has expressed that she will work towards changing the widely accepted belief that the people can only receive the benefit of the welfare services only with the blessing or influence of a certain of a specific person.

Dr. Jameel made that statement speaking to the media at pressroom Fansavees / Dharubaaruge on Thursday. Speaking to the media, she noted that people are not fully aware of how to obtain the welfare services which is main reason for such a belief and that it is time to change all that. She also said one of main priorities is to make the services easily accessible to the people.

"We have to change this belief that welfare services can only be obtained through the influence or with the blessing of some one else, by the will of Almighty Allah, we can change that, welfare services is accessible to all equally under established rules and regulations" minister expressed.

Minister also high lighted the lack of awareness on how to get the welfare assistances and that this has caused many people to go from one official to another trying to either speed up the services or trying to seek the services.

Deputy Director of Health Ministry, Zimna Thaufeeq informed that welfare services are divided to two categories. Seeking welfare assistance to get treatment from aboard and seeking medical treatment domestically. She revealed that the ministry will be placing application forms at Health Centers in atolls to make welfare services more easily accessible to islanders.

 

President Nasheed inaugurates the meeting on decentralisation of administration of Atolls held in Fuvahmulah


29th Nov:
President Nasheed has inaugurated the meeting on decentralization of administration of Atolls this evening at Fuvahmulah. Speaking at the meeting, President Nasheed said that the main obstacle in decentralizing the administration of Atolls is that the reluctance of some people to give up their powers and the belief that they will be governed under a certain atoll or island.
In this regard, the President assured that decentralization does not necessarily mean that they would be governed under a certain atoll or island. He also said that establishment of a form of governance that includes multiple political views would be a priority.
The President also requested all the stakeholders to provide assistance and co-operation in making the decentralization of administration of Atolls a reality. He also urged the participants of today's meeting to come up with sound performance and produce an outstanding structure to reach the goal of decentralization.
President Nasheed further said that the Government will continue the ongoing project of constructing an Airport in Fuvahmulah.
Today's meeting was chaired by the MP of Fuvahmulah, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Didi. A presentation on decentralization of administration of Atolls was delivered by Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr. Ahmed Mujthaba, Policy Secretary at the President's Office, Mr. Abdul Bari Abdulla and Executive Secretary at the President's Office, Mr. Mohamed Hunaif. Members of the M. D. P. Parliamentary Group took questions from the participants of today's meeting. Deputy Under Secretary at the President's Office, Mr. Shua'ib Ali introduced today's meeting.

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