Pro-government MP Riyaz Rasheed has submitted a bill to parliament seeking state funds to cover costs at any residence the president decides to live in.
According to the draft bill, if the president or vice president and their families decide to live in a place other than the official state residences, the state must provide funds to hire sufficient staff, cover overhead expenses, and maintain security at the chosen residences.
President Abdulla Yameen has announced he will reside in his personal home, while Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and his family live in the state residence Hilaaleege.
Increased Muleeage budget
Despite Yameen’s decision to reside in his personal home, the allocated budget for the official presidential residence Muleeaage has increased by MVR2 million (USD130,208) in the draft budget for 2014.
The allocated budget for the presidential residence currently stands at MVR19.1 million (USD1,243,486).
Earlier in December, Parliament’s Budget Review Committee Chair Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim said the increased budget was necessary in case Yameen decides to move to Muleeage.
If Rasheed’s bill is passed, the state will be funding both the president’s stay at his personal residence, as well as expenses for running the unoccupied official state residence.
Highlighting the increased budget for Muleeage, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor described Yameen’s decision to live in his personal house as a “symbolic act.”
“Unlike in the past, even media points out inconsistencies in what leaders say and what reality presents these days. I do not believe the public will be deluded about any of this,” Hamid said.
“While Yameen might have thought his decision will get people thinking that he is a humble man, reality is that ultimately, the state is having to spend much more of its funds to maintain this decision of his. People are much more aware now than in previous PPM times. People can see he’s just trying to score political points,” he continued.