New regulation issued on import duty waivers

President Abdulla Yameen has issued a new regulation for businesses seeking to waive import duties on a variety of capital goods and has waived duties on some goods imported to address “special circumstances.”

The revised Maldives Import Export Act gives the president the authority to waive import duties for “items imported to commence, undertake and operate activities that are beneficial to the Maldivian economy.”

According to the new regulation, businesses seeking the duty waiver should fit on the following criteria:

  • Businesses seeking to increase Maldives’ exports and reduce imports.
  • Businesses introducing a new technology
  • Economic activities which will increase living standards and employment opportunities.
  • Increase foreign currency revenues
  • Diversify the Maldivian economy.
  • Encourage small and medium sized enterprises.

The decree states that such imports can only be expensive machinery, capital equipment, infrastructure material, aircrafts and aircraft spares. The total value of items imported must be above US$2million. Duty can be waived for a period between 3 to 15 years depending on the investment of the business.

Depending on the business sector, companies seeking duty exemption should request the waiver from either the economic development ministry, the tourism ministry or the fisheries ministry. The waiver must be requested 14 days before the goods arrive in the country.

President Yameen also waived import duties for goods used in special circumstances.

These are:

  • Goods imported treat people during an epidemic.
  • Goods imported to address a decline in living standards or food supplies because of a failure to provide education, healthcare, electricity, water, sewerage and other such basic services.
  • Goods imported to address the impact of a natural disaster.
  • Goods imported on free aid to provide basic services, infrastructure development and environmental conservation projects.
  • Goods given as gifts or free aid to the people of the Maldives or to a specific island.

Goods brought under special circumstances do not need to provide the 14 day notice.


Missing Maldivian pilgrim found after four days

A 75-year-old Maldivian pilgrim who went missing in Mecca has been found after four days, local media reports.

The government-owned Hajj Corporation said Ali Mohamed, from Haa Alif Baarah, was found this morning at the Masjid al-Haram or sacred mosque in Mecca that surrounds the Kaaba (House of God).

Mohamed had been praying at the mosque for the past four days and was unable to find his way out, Hajj Corporation managing director Yameen Idhrees told Haveeru.

Idhrees said Mohamed is in good health and that the corporation is making arrangements to send the pilgrim to join the rest of the group in Medina.

A total of 1,396 Maldivians are in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umra pilgrimage during the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Some 315 pilgrims are under the care of the Hajj Corporation while others are traveling with private Hajj groups.


Disgraced former CSC chair appointed as high commissioner

The parliament today approved the disgraced former chairperson of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mohamed Fahmy Hassan as the new high commissioner to Malaysia.

Fahmy’s nomination was approved with 41 votes in favour, 13 against, and one abstention.

The parliament had removed Fahmy from the CSC in 2012 after he was found to have sexually harassed a female staff member, but the Supreme Court blocked the dismissal as “unconstitutional.”

Upon assuming office in November 2013, President Yameen appointed Fahmy as the deputy high commissioner to Malaysia.

In late May, the foreign ministry recalled former high commissioner Mohamed Fayaz from Malaysia saying he had failed to “adequately promote Maldives’ foreign policy interests in Malaysia.”

The Supreme Court overruling parliament’s dismissal of Fahmy had meanwhile led to both Fahmy and his replacement Fathimath Reeni Abdul Sattar arriving for work.

The CSC eventually blocked Fahmy from accessing its offices in September 2013. A source said Fahmy’s fingerprint access was rescinded after the former commissioner continued to come to the office for a few minutes every day.

Fahmy was alleged to have called a female staff member over to him, taken her hand and asked her to stand in front of him so that others in the office could not see, and caressed her stomach saying ”it won’t do for a beautiful single woman like you to get fat.”

According to local media, the woman told her family about the incident, who then called Fahmy. Fahmy then sent her a text message apologising for the incident, reportedly stating, ”I work very closely with everyone. But I have learned my lesson this time.”

In response to the allegations, Fahmy told Minivan News previously that the female staff member had made up the allegation after she learned she had not won a scholarship to Singapore offered by the CSC.


Hearing in Ibthihaal murder trial cancelled

A hearing in the trial of Afiya Mohamed Manik over the murder of her three-year-old son was cancelled today due to the absence of a defence lawyer.

At the last hearing of the trial on June 15, the judge offered Afiya the opportunity to appoint a lawyer at the state’s expense and explained the process of seeking a public defender.

The criminal court told local media that today’s hearing was cancelled because the accused did not have legal representation. The attorney general’s office is responsible for appointing public defenders to defendants who lack the financial means.

In addition to murder, Afiya was also charged with disobedience to order over child abuse and neglect with reference to the law on protecting children’s rights.

At the previous hearing, she pleaded guilty to the latter charge, but also confessed to the murder.

She told the court that she repeatedly abused her son, Mohamed Ibthihaal, and said she felt anger towards the boy because he was born out of wedlock.

Ibthihaal died “by my hands,” Afiya said. She confessed to strangling the child and kicking his chest three times.

Judge Muhthaz Fahmy reportedly stopped Afiya and reminded her that she was to answer the disobedience to order charge.

If she is found guilty of murder, Afiya faces a sentence of life imprisonment. She had reportedly confessed to murder during the police interrogation and her remand hearings.

Ibthihaal’s body was found with signs of severe abuse on January 28 in the worst case of child abuse in recent years. The horrific murder on the island of Rakeedhoo in Vaavu atoll shocked the nation while reports that the authorities had been aware of Ibthihaal’s abuse sparked public outrage.

Afiya was arrested for murder two days later and has since been held in pre-trial detention.


Maldives secures US$50m loan for water and waste projects

The Maldives has obtained a US$50million loan from the OPEC Fund for Development to provide access to water and solid waste management on 49 islands.

Finance minister Abdulla Jihad signed the agreement in Vienna on Thursday. The loan is to be repaid within 18 years, including a grace period of four years.

The interest rate on the loan is 4.6percent.

Under the “Provision of water supply, sanitation and solid waste management project,” sewerage systems will be established on southern Addu Atoll’s Maradhoo, Maradhoofeydhoo, Feydhoo, Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo islands.

Water supply networks will be established in ten islands and water supply systems with desalination and storage facilities will be established in 14 islands.


Parliament debates lowering pension age

The parliament yesterday accepted for consideration a bill on lowering the pension age from 65 to 60 years.

The amendments proposed to the pension law by independent MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik was accepted unanimously with 56 votes in favour and sent to committee for review.

The deputy speaker also proposed amending the law to allow workers to withdraw from their savings after retiring at the age of 55.

During the debate on the legislation yesterday, some MPs noted that lowering the retirement age would make 6,000 more people eligible for the MVR5,000 a month old age pension, which would cost the government MVR30 million extra a month.

State institutions had opposed a proposal to lower the retirement age in 2012.

Meanwhile, government-sponsored legislation on national disasters was also accepted for consideration at yesterday’s sitting of parliament with 54 votes in favour.

The bill proposes the formation of a ‘national disaster council’ and specifies the role of state institutions in relief efforts and mitigating the effects of national disasters.

A national plan outlining preventive measures must be formulated every five years, the proposed law states.


Dr Bari rejoins Adhaalath Party

Former Islamic minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has rejoined the Adhaalath Party.

According to local media, Bari signed for Adhaalath Party on Monday, but the religious scholar has not publicly spoken about the move.

Bari served as Islamic minister under former President Mohamed Nasheed. He left the Adhaalath Party in June 2013 and signed for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ahead of the presidential election in November 2013.

Following the imprisonment of former President Nasheed in March, the Adhaalath Party formed an alliance with the MDP and launched anti-government protests under the ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ banner.

The Adhaalath Party leader, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, remains meanwhile under police custody. He was charged with terrorism and accused of inciting violence at a mass protest on May 1.

Bari has also been active in the opposition alliance.


Murder suspect found dead

A 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder last year was found dead in a residence in Malé around 10:00am on Monday morning.

According to local media, the man from Fuvahmulah was arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of 28-year-old Ahmed Mafaz in December last year. He was reportedly released after being held in remand detention.

The police declined to reveal further details and have yet to determine the cause of death.



Four police officers promoted to assistant commissioner rank

Four police chief superintendents were promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner of police yesterday.

The four new assistant commissioners are Abdulla Nawaz, Abdul Rahman Yoosuf, Ahmed Mohamed Ismail and Mohamed Jamsheed.

Mohamed Jamsheed has also been appointed the new head of police intelligence.

The former intelligence chief, assistant commissioner Ahmed Arif, was appointed as the head of the development directorate. The post was previously held by Jamsheed.

A police media official told Minivan News that the promotions were routine and that positions are changed whenever a term expires.