MPs debate MVR3,000 Ramadan bonus for all Muslim workers

The parliament today debated amendments submitted to the Employment Act for paying MVR3,000 (US$194) as a Ramadan bonus for all Muslim workers in the Maldives.

The legislation was submitted by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Mohamed Ali after the ruling party announced plans to equalise the Ramadan bonus last month.

PPM MP Nihan said at the time MVR36 million (US$2.3million) in extra funding would be needed to increase the Ramadan allowance for all state employees. The current budget for Ramadan allowance stands at MVR92 million (US$5.9million).

The Employment Act entitles all Muslim workers in the Maldives to a sum no less than one-third of their monthly salary for the month of fasting, with a minimum of MVR2,000 (US$129) and a maximum of MVR10,000 (US$645).

During the preliminary debate at today’s sitting of parliament, both pro-government and opposition MPs supported the proposal.

But several MPs expressed concern with private businesses having to raise additional funds to pay the mandatory flat rate of MVR3,000 with Ramadan only nine days away.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ahmed Nashid, owner of the private ADK hospital, also argued that increasing expenditure from the state budget could lead to inflation and a dollar shortage.

However, the amendment bill was unanimously accepted for consideration with 61 votes in favour and sent to committee for further review.

Statistics published by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) shows almost half of the country’s 24,742 civil servants are paid less than MVR4,999 (US$ 324) a month.