Development to speed up under new budget: President Nasheed

The passing of the 2011 state budget will allow for much faster development of infrastructure projects across the Maldives, President Mohamed Nasheed has said, as street protests by NGOs, civil servants and private citizens took place last week over concerns about the finance plan.

Miadhu reported that the president used his radio address on Friday to claim that the country’s finances for 2011 represented “a different type of budget” following multi-party consultation. Nasheed also said that he was hopeful the “objectives” of this year’s budget could all be achieved by 2012.

Miadhu reported that the budget has been said to be designed for the first time around various government programmes mandated by the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) own manifesto.

“As the budget is implemented, it will show how much we achieve or how much we fail to achieve,” Nasheed was quoted as saying in the paper’s online edition. “The budget is based on programmes, which are government pledges. The budget’s objective is to fulfil those pledges.”

On Thursday, hundreds of protestors took to the streets around the Majlis to show their frustration at amendments included within the budget that could lead to increased salaries and other privileges for MPs.

According to the new bill, parliamentarians could receive up to an additional Rf20,000 in their salaries for attending committees, while also being allowed to import vehicles without paying any duty on them.   Parliament also approved measures to reinstate the salaries of independent commissions, while failing to address the reduced salaries of civil servants.