Goverment to amend Decentralisation Act

The Government has proposed an amendment to the Decentralisation Act in a bid to cut spending on the Civil Service.

The Act, regarding local councils, currently ensures that five council members must be elected for every island with less than 3000 people, while islands with more than 3000 people are entitled to seven councilors.

In cities, one councilor is elected for each constituency.

The proposed amendment amalgamates the island and atoll councils to a limited extent.

Individuals may belong to both councils, and there will no longer be separate elections for the atoll councils.

Ibrahim Muaz, spokesman for the President’s Office, said, “the president’s thinking is not to cut-down on the number of councilors. But to elect councilors based on the population of the islands. This is a move to curb State expenditure.”

The government hopes to implement the amendment before the local council elections in January.

However, Moosa Manik, MP for Hulhu-Henveiru and Chair of the Parliamentary National Security Committee, warned that it may be impossible to implement the changes before January.

The committee has recently passed other local council reforms, including designating any island with more than 10 000 people a city (currently 25 000) and inviting the president of the women’s committee into council.

The Maldivian Democratic Party had proposed similar legislation in 2010, aiming to cut down on administrative costs by establishing seven provinces in place of the twenty-one atoll system.

The bill was shot down by opposition MPs, mostly from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, on the grounds that the proposed changes were unconstitutional.