Budget debate begins in parliament

The budget debate began in parliament today with opposition MPs criticising higher taxes and pro-government MPs praising planned capital investments.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs contended that the budget would bring “revolutionary” changes to the economy and spur growth, noting that recurrent expenditure of MVR15.8 billion (US$1 billion) would be covered by government income or revenue of MVR21.5 billion (US$1.3 billion).

The MVR6.3 billion (US$408 million) allocated for the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) – 24 percent of the budget – would see an unprecedented number of infrastructure projects launched in 2015, the ruling party MPs said.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs, however, questioned whether MVR3.4 billion (US$220 million) anticipated from proposed new revenue raising measures could be realised in full during the year.

MDP MPs also argued that the public would have to bear the burden of higher prices caused by import duty hikes and claimed the budget was “discriminatory” as constituencies represented by opposition MPs were ignored.