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Maldives News Bulletin, 09-12-2008
Issue No: 1180
The President sends to the People's Majlis Bill on People's Majlis Elections, Bill on Business Profit Tax and Bill on Administration of Taxation

1st Dec: The President has sent three bills to the People's Majlis. The three bills are Bill on People's Majlis Elections, Bill on Business Profit Tax and Bill on Administration of Taxation.
The objectives of the Bill on People's Majlis Elections include the establishment of a democratic framework that ensures that the parliamentary elections are free and fair through the participation of the maximum number of voters. This Bill was drafted by the Elections Commission after discussion with relevant parties.
The Bill on Business Profit Tax will introduce a framework for taxing on business profit. The objectives of the Bill include widening avenues for more revenue generation as well as introducing a better tax system in the country. The bill provides for direct taxation on business profit.
The Bill on Administration of Taxation specifies administrative regulations for taxing on business profit.

 

The President says that the Government wants to prioritise the private sector over the government, in receiving loans


1st Dec:
President Mohamed Nasheed has said that he had requested the World Bank officials to prioritise the Maldives' private sector over the Government in extending loan facilities. He made this statement at a press briefing held today, on establishing a transport network in the Maldives.
He also noted that the Government does not wish the transfer of people's homes from one island to another and the Government's long term plan was to open a national fund that would assist us in protecting ourselves from climate change calamities.

 

The President says that the government is determined to speed up the establishment of a transport network in the country


1st Dec:
President Nasheed has said that the government was determined to speed up the establishment of a transport network in the country. The President made this statement while speaking to the media at a press briefing held at the President's Office today.
The President said that at this stage, the most important thing was to group the islands in to 7 regions and to establish a transport network through an open tender process. Further, he said that the contractors would also be provided with plots of land near the terminal, which will be used for industrial purposes. He also noted that the Government would monitor and control certain factors, such as the number of vessels that would stop at the terminals and ticket prices.
The President also announced that a special meeting on transport networking will be held at Dharubaaruge', tonight. He welcomed entrepreneurs and other businesses in the Maldives, to join this meeting, and assured that the Government would give them full support and cooperation.
The President was joined at today's press briefing by the Minister of Housing, Transport and Environment, Mr. Mohamed Aslam and State Minister of Housing, Transport and Environment, Mr. Maizan Adam Maniku.

 

The Government of Maldives formally accepts the obligations of ILO Constitution


3rd Dec:
The Government of Maldives has formally accepted the obligations of the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In a letter to the Secretary-General of ILO, the President noted that, in accordance with paragraph 3 of Article 1 of ILO Constitution, the Government of Maldives would undertake fully to perform each of the provisions in the Constitution.
The President also noted that the Government of Maldives would bear its share of the expenses of the International Labour Organisation in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Organisation and would make the necessary arrangements concerning its financial contribution.

 

The President meets with His Royal Highness Prince Andrew


3rd Dec:
The President has met with His Royal Highness Prince Andrew the Duke of York. The meeting was held today at the President's Office.
In their meeting President Nasheed and Prince Andrew discussed on the ways of strengthening bilateral relations and on possible areas of cooperation between the Maldives and the United Kingdom.
The President briefed Prince Andrew on the status of the economy of the country and underscored the urgency of aid and assistances to the Maldives. Speaking on the Government's plans to open up state owned businesses for joint venture, the President also briefed the Prince on the ongoing joint venture with Cable and Wireless.
Prince Andrew inquired on areas of assistance that the Maldives needed, and noted the importance of teacher training and human resource capacity building for the Maldives.
President Nasheed also emphasised the importance of increasing the presence of voluntary service organisations in the country, and said that the Government was working to attract overseas voluntary workers. He also said that the country needed technical assistance for joint venture projects undertaken by the Government. Furthermore, the President said the Government wanted to further develop Gan International Airport and develop hospitals in the country.
At the meeting, the President extended an invitation to Queen Elizabeth II or any member of the Royal family to make a visit to the Maldives.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed; Special Envoy of the President, Mr. Ibrahim Hussain Zaki; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed; British High Commissioner to the Maldives, Dr. Peter Heyes; Maldives' Press and Political Officer at the British High Commission in Colombo, Ms Sabra Noordeen; Cabinet Secretary at the President's Office, Mr. Abdulla Saeed; Policy Secretary at the President's Office, Mr. Abdulla Bari Abdulla; and, Press Secretary at the President's Office, Mr. Mohamed Zuhair.

 

MATI has not informed any changes to law on tourism employees: Diyana


3rd Dec:
Attorney General Fathmath Diyana Saeed has said Maldives Association for Tourism Industry, MATI has so far not proposed any changes to the existing law relating to the employees working in the tourism industry.

MATI has however stated many times that there are some concerns about the law. They have also issued press releases on the same issue. In view of these concerns, Miadhu daily asked Attorney General Diyana about it, and she replied, " There is information that MATI has written to the former Ministry of Legal Reform Information and Arts which were dealing with these laws earlier regarding some concerns but it is not known what those concerns are." She said there were no other communication on this issue and she has received further confirmation from the officials who dealt with the law that there are no such concerns.

The Attorney General said she feels this matter needs to be further clarified and she would be holding discussions with MATI soon. Diyana further said views and concerns of both investors and employees in the industry have to be obtained and a more inclusive law has to be enacted.

 

Coast Guard checking vessels for Eid holidays safety


3rd Dec:
The Coast Guard has started a stringent check on the safety standards compliance of sea-going vessels as an extra precaution for the coming Azuha Eid holidays. These checks will be carried out in Male' and atolls to ensure if the vessels comply with the sea-worthiness and safety standards set out by the Transport ministry.

The Eid Holidays would be starting from Friday 5 December and will be over on Sunday 13 December enabling a 9 day long holiday for the people. A large number of people would be visiting islands in the atolls and most people travel by sea. About 20,000 people are expected to leave Male' and travel to the atolls as well as overseas to spend the holidays. Most of the flights and regular ferries are already booked and several families and groups are reported to have organised private vessels for their visit to the islands.

Coast Guard has reminded all operators and owners of vessels to have all safety measures complied and also check about weather before and during the trips in order to ensure maximum security and safety.They have also warned not to violate safety regulations and never to carry more passengers than allowed. They have also started an awareness programme for the benefit of travellers.

 

The President appoints a Minister of State for Home Affairs and three Deputy State Ministers


4th Dec:
The President has appointed Mr. Mohamed Hunaif as Minister of State for Home Affairs. Mr. Hunaif will work at the regional office in South Thiladhunmathi Atoll Kulhudhuffushi. The President also, today, appointed three Deputy Ministers of State for Home Affairs. The three Deputy Ministers of State are Mr. Ahmed Zaki, Mr. Fuad Gasim and Mr. Adam Naseer. The President made these appointments at a ceremony held at North Thiladhunmathi Atoll Dhidhdhoo.
Speaking at the ceremony, the President urged the new appointees to work for the betterment of the people. The President expressed his confidence that the new appointees would sincerely and relentlessly carry out their work.
Commenting on decentralisation, the President remarked that it was the Government's duty to make all preparations for decentralisation during the current transition period.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr. Ahmed Mujthaba; Executive Services Secretary of the President's Office, Mr. Mohamed Ziyadh; and, Policy Secretary of the President's Office, Mr. Abdul Bary Abdulla.
This ceremony to announce senior Government appointments is first of its kind held outside the capital, Male'.

 

The President appoints a member to the Judicial Service Commission


4th Dec:
President Nasheed has appointed Uza. Aishath Bisam, as a member of the Judicial Service Commission. She took her Oath of Office today.

 

Gasim Resigns as Home Minister


4th Dec:
After 22 days in office, Home Minister Gasim Ibrahim has resigned following an admission to the press on Tuesday that he had ordered police to go to One and Only Reethirah Resort subsequent to a request made but the management of the One and only Reethi Rah tourist resort to remove the 13 staff who had been dismissed. Gasim also stated that he felt constitutionally "obliged" to send police because he had been informed that the workers were "a danger to guests, employees and buildings".
Gasim also admitted that Police commissioner Ahmed Faseeh, was reluctant to take police action regarding the matter but that he was grateful to the police for ‘carrying out their duty'.However he added that that he was not responsible for ordering either the number of police or specifying that riot gear should be worn. The resignation came a day after, a press briefing by Gasim where he stated that the riot police didn't even use batons nor carry pepper spray to the resort, whereas the employees of reethi Rah have alleged use of electric batons and irritant spray from up to 50 police who arrived on the island in full riot early on Sunday morning.
In this briefing Gasim had also accused the press release made by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives following the confrontation between police and the protesting resort employees of being ‘one-side'.
Responding to this comment HRCM had issued another press release this morning stating that their statement was based upon credible evidences which include photographs and videos obtained during their investigation of the matter and that they stand by their statement in condemning the actions of the police.

 

Mohamed Hunaif appointed as State Minister for Home Affairs


5th Dec:
President's Office has revealed that President Nasheed has appointed Mohamed Hunaif of Mahaa of Hdh Kulhudhufusshi as Minister of State for Home Affairs on Thursday. President's Office also informed that Hunaif will work at the Regional Office in Kulhudhuffushi.

President Nasheed also appointed three Deputy Ministers of State for Home Affairs. The three Deputy Ministers of State are Ahmed Zaki of Sharmeela Manzil of Shaviyani Foakaidhoo, Fuad Gasim of Koatay of Ha Kela and Adam Naseer of Jareemaage of Ha Dhihdhoo. The appointments were made at a ceremony held at North Thiladhunmathi Atoll Dhidhdhoo.

Speaking at the ceremony, President urged the new appointees to work for the betterment of the people. The President expressed his confidence that the new appointees would sincerely and relentlessly carry out their work.

Speaking on the government efforts to decentralize administrations of atolls, President remarked that it was the Government's duty to complete all preparations for decentralization during the current transition period.

The ceremony was attended by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Ahmed Mujthaba; Executive Services Secretary of the President's Office, Mohamed Ziyadh; and, Policy Secretary of the President's Office Abdul Bary Abdulla.

President Nasheed earlier on Thursday appointed Aishath Bisam of G. Saimaa to the Judicial Service Commission. She took her Oath of Office on Thursday.

 

Maldives calls for action on climate change


5th Dec
: State Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem has called for a more action-oriented policy on climate change. The minister made the call in a statement delivered on the first of this month at the climate change side-event of the United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Doha, Qatar, according to foreign office.

In his address State Minister Naseem urged for a sharpened focus on the link between global climate change and human rights in the debates, and drew attention to the international initiative steered forward by the Maldives under the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change.

"Climate change, if left unchecked, has the potential to cause a major human development reversal in our lifetime" noted the State Minister. He also raised the issue of global climate justice, stating that "Small Island States collectively have a tiny carbon footprint and yet stand to suffer the worst consequences of climate change".

'For the past twenty years the vulnerable communities of our world have waited patiently for the powerful nations of the international community to respond responsibly. We have watched and listened as our cries have fallen on deaf ears" Minister said.

Concluding his address, he forwarded global solutions to combat this global problem. State Minister Naseem highlighted the importance of finance as 'a critical element of any strategy to address climate change effectively,' and appealed to the international community to lend assistance to Least Developing Countries in strengthening their adaptive capacities against the compound threats of climate change.

State minister Naseem was a panelist in the side-event of the UN International Conference on Financing for Development. Accompanying the State Minister were Dr. Hussain Niyaz, Executive Director and Thilmeeza Hussain, Assistant Director at the Ministry.

 

Projects that took 4-5 years can be done in 6 months in a decentralized system: President


5th Dec:
President Mohamed Nasheed has said development projects which have taken 4-5 years to implement can be done in 6 months in a decentralized administrative system. The new President said this while speaking to a meeting held in H Dh Kulhudhuffushi yesterday morning when he opened a workshop on decentralization of atolls. The President said what is now happening is every stage of such projects of very urgently needed services are taking place in Male, from planning, finalization, requesting for foreign aid through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and funds from Ministry of Finance, bidding, signing and handing over the works to the contractor and payments to the contractor. He said under a decentralized administrative system all these will be done in the atolls and people will be closely associated in the whole process.
The President referred to the sewerage systems that is being built in Kulhuduffushi and said the very long time taken to start the project was because of these lengthy process in Male'. He said the process will be speeded up significantly under the decentralization system. The President also said the policy of decentralization is set out in the new Constitution and the Government is obliged to start the system urgently. For that matter the three atolls of H A, H Dh and Sh will come under one region. The necessary legislation will be enacted soon, Nasheed said.

Nasheed elaborated this is a system which was a priority of MDP and he is confident the new system would bring immense benefits to the people. There are many urgent needs of the people living in the islands, and if the people themselves manage their affairs and decide and implement their development policies and needs, that would make the who process more efficient, fast and economical, he pointed out.

The President said the workshop will be a very useful exercise where the people will be informed of the system and where they can ask and clarify further on the matter. The President also opened similar workshops in the capitals of Ha and Sh atoll. President Nasheed also appointed Mohamed Huanif of H Dh Kulhudhuffushi as the Minister of State for Home Affairs to be in charge of this region and he also appointed 3 deputy ministers who will work along with the State Minister in the 3 atolls. The letters of appointment to Hunaif and one Deputy Minister were given to them by the President at a ceremony held in the capital island of H A atoll Dhidhdhoo yesterday evening which is the first such ceremony held in the atolls.

President Nasheed was accompanied by State Minister for Home Affairs Ahmed Mujuthaba and Secretary for planning in the President's Office Abdul Bari Abdullah, Secretary for Protocol Mohamed Ziyad, and some members of the Majlis for these 3 atolls. President received a rousing welcome in all the islands he visited.

 

MATI initiates discussions on Labor Law


5th Dec:
Maldives Association for Tourism Industry (MATI) has organized a meeting at the conference hall of SHE building to discuss issues and difficulties faced in complying with Maldives Labor Law.

The meeting attended by many members of the association was led by MATI Chairman Mohamed Umar Manik, Hussain Hilmy,Sim Ibrahim Mohamed and Mohamed Ibrahim Noordeen.

Introducing the meeting, Sim Ibrahim Mohamed noted that there were many difficulties and issues that need to be resolved to fully comply with the newly enacted labor law.

Speaking at the meeting MATI Chairman Mohamed Umar Manik expressed that during the drafting stage of the labor bill and its subsequent enactment and introduction no consideration was given to the impacts the law will have on the industry investors and the difficulties they may face. He said the labor law was drafted with government employees in mind then people working at resorts and industrial sites.

Hussain Hilmy expressed that as the law was passed rather suddenly with objective of furthering certain political objectives of the previous government, it lacks important elements that need to be included in such a law. He noted strikes are not staged at work sites in any part of the world and that people organizing strikes in future should take this fact in to consideration.

Some members expressed that under the present labor employees are entitled to 194 days of leave and that labor can be interpreted by the employees to demand a day off every three days. Members also talked about having a common standard on working hours, off days and leave granted to launch drivers and workers on safari boats. Members also discussed ways of introducing different standards for working in different industrial sectors.

 

Maldivian Rufiyaa will not be devalued: MMA


5th Dec:
Maldives Monetary Authority, MMA has said there is no intention of the Authority to devalue the Maldivian Rufiyaa. Senior Executive Director Abdul Ghafoor told Miadhu daily Friday. He further said the news broadcast on a radio news bulletin saying Maldivian Rufiya will be devalued in a near future is not correct. Ghafoor said this news report must be an error because MMA has published a statement last week to say there will be no devaluation of the Rufiyaa.

According to Ghafoor the recent difficulty to obtain US dollar notes from the Banks was due to the Hajj and holiday season when large amounts of US dollars are purchased in notes. There is also a huge amount of foreign currency paid to expatriate workers in the country. Large amounts of US dollars are also needed for traders and businessmen

According to our information travellers and traders in the past few weeks encountered lot of difficulty to buy US dollars in notes and several persons found it difficulty to get small amounts of US dollars due to the shortage of US dollar notes in most Banks. There are reports of selling US dollars in black market for a much higher cost.

In the recent Budget debate in the People's Majlis some members have expressed concern about the difficulty to buy US dollars from Banks. These members have suggested the Government must introduce new rules to deposit a part of the earnings of tourist resorts in Banks in the Maldives for a short period so that there will be no difficulty to buy foreign currency from the Banks.

MMA has said the shortage of foreign currency faced will be temporary and soon there will be no such difficulties to buy foreign currency. MMA has however advised travellers to use credit cards and travellers cheques to ease the difficulty.

 

Government to stop appointing atoll chiefs


5th Dec:
The Government will not be appointing atoll chiefs to the atolls in future following the introduction of the decentralised systems in the atolls. There will be a Deputy Minister in charge of every atoll instead of the atoll chief and a State Minister in charge of the region, according to official sources. President Mohamed Nasheed has said his Government is committed to a policy of administering the atolls on a decentralised system as stipulated by the new Constitution. The President has already launched a major component of the decentralised programme in the region of H A, H Dh and Sh during his visit to the 3 atolls on Thursday and Friday.

President Nasheed has also appointed Mohaed Hunaif as State Minister for Home Affairs to be in charge of the H A, H Dh and Sh region. Three Deputy Ministers under the State Minister were also appointed by the President in a ceremony held in the capital island of H A Atoll Dhhidhdhoo Thursday. Speaking at the ceremony President Nasheed has said this is an important beginning and a major step forward in establishing decentralised administration of atolls. He urged the Ministers to do their best to achieve the goals of decentralisation and run affairs of the region in close consultation with the people and efficiently and objectively.

President Nasheed has stated needs and aspirations of the people can be addressed more urgently in a decentralised system in which the people will be fully involved in the whole process.

Atolls of the Maldives were run by atoll chiefs appointed by the President in the past and administration of the atolls was a responsibility of the Ministry of Atolls Development or any other ministry charged with the responsibility. President Nasheed's new Government has not established a ministry for the atolls but the administration of the atolls was reported as a responsibility of the Home Minstry. President Nasheed's former spokesman and present Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussain Zaki has announced few days after the inauguration of the President, atoll chiefs would be appointed shortly. Former Home Minister Gasim Ibrahim has also said on many occasions atoll chiefs will be appointed soon.

In the former Government atoll chiefs were elevated to the rank of deputy ministers in status and benefits. The new constitution requires atolls to be administered on a decentralised system and city, atolls and island councils to be elected for this purpose. The constitution has also stated these elections will be held by 15 March 2009.

President Nasheed speaking at a meeting during his northern tour has said the country is embarking on a major change by devolving powers of the atolls vested in the central government for so long to the atolls themselves so that the affairs of the atolls will be managed more efficiently by the people of the atolls.

President Nasheed had already visited Addu Atoll and Foammulah which will become the first southern region to be have devolution of power. The region is expected to get its State Minister and 2 Deputy ministers soon.

There are reports of dissatisfaction expressed by some people about the new system and about the prospect of some atolls coming under another atoll. Critics also say this system will not work in the country and would be counter productive..

Former Atolls Minister Mohamed Waheeddeen of former President Gayoom had become an instant hero of reformists and like minded people after he announced on the same day of his appointment, he would have atoll and island chiefs elected by the people of the respective atoll and islands. There are people who feel election of chiefs going to create many difficulties.

 

Protesters call to prosecute former President Maumoon


5th Dec:
A group of people have held a peaceful protest against the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. They have called on the Government to bring Maumoon to justice and punish him for the crimes he and members of his government has committed during the 30 year rule of the former president. Protesters expressed their dissatisfaction to President Mohamed Nasheed for his decision to treat the former leader with dignity and respect. Referring to the President's statement to exercise calm and humility in time of victory, they were chanting they have waited enough in humility and they cannot do so any longer.

Protesters were also calling to undertake full investigations on the crimes , injustices and corruption perpetrated by the former government and called to bring former Police Commissioner Adam Zahir before justice and deal with him according to the law of the country. Most of them carried placards expressing their concerns.

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