The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held a parade and rally on Saturday (August 24) that it claims was attended by over 8,000 supporters in order to launch their complete manifesto, titled “Costed and Budgeted 2013 – 2018”.
After a parade down Majeedhee Magu – the main street through Male’ – MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed addressed his supporters and explained the contents of the party’s manifesto.
“These policies in our manifesto are based on what we learned when we walked door to door, conversing with citizens, enquiring what your thoughts and needs are,” Nasheed said at the rally held in the ‘Raalhugandu’ area.
“In the next 5 years, the state will make a revenue of MVR 72 billion [US$4.6 billion] through the tax system, investments and other programmes we run. Within those 5 years, we will implement 137 development projects. We have budgeted to spend a total of MVR 30 billion [US$1.9 billion] on policies directly related to the people’s development,” Nasheed explained. “The rest will be spent on salaries of civil service staff, debt repayment and administrative matters.”
“I am not contesting in the upcoming elections with a handful of empty vows. Our competitors’ pledges are made in a manner where, if coming on to an island the first person they meet asks for a fishing vessel, they promise to deliver fishing vessels for them all. And then say they meet a teacher who asks for an iPad, whereupon they’ll pledge to give iPads to all teachers. The next person in line might say he is not feeling well, whereupon the candidate may vow to deliver a nurse and doctor to each house. This is not how a political party should form its pledges,” said Nasheed, criticising the competing candidates for the upcoming September 7 election.
“Our pledges contain things that will be fulfilled upon implementation of our policies. Take a look, this manifesto will not contain even a single policy which has not been accounted for. Even if we are asked to submit a budget to the parliament by tomorrow, we are ready to do so.”
Highlighting the contents of the manifesto, Nasheed stated that it included plans for introducing 51,000 job opportunities, a MVR120 million (US$7.7 billion) savings scheme for higher education, MVR118 million (US$7.6 billion) student loan scheme, 20,000 accomodation flats, a MVR2000 (US$129) allowance for every single parent and person with special needs, and an allowance of MVR2300 (US$149) for the elderly.
Nasheed further stated that the party found it highly concerning that “the national debt is 82% of national production”, saying that the manifesto has been designed keeping the factor in mind.
“We will continue to implement the tax system we established in our first term. We will carry out development work without increasing GST and taxes from business profits. We will also introduce income tax, as we previously proposed in 2010,” he continued.
The presidential candidate also stated that it was “of utmost importance” to establish a development bank in the country.
“We especially discussed this with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, and based on existing studies made with the assistance of the UNDP, our aim is to establish a development bank within the first year of our term,” he stated.
“With 600 million rufiya from our state budget, and 400 million rufiya from international financial bodies, the development bank will be able to release funding for the generation of 1 billion rufiya capital,” he continued.
“Our aim is for the development bank to issue to private entities 20 percent [of total funds] for the construction of houses, 8 percent to implement a transport system, 44 percent for agriculture, travel and fishing, 13 percent for the education field, 13 percent for education.”
“MDP’s basic objective has been to ensure that if there is a service that is available to any citizen of the Maldives, then to make it available to all other citizens equitably.”
According to Nasheed, the manifesto includes plans to spend MVR16 billion (US$1 billion) on social protection.
Concluding his speech, Nasheed stated that the MDP Manifesto included plans to assure that life becomes better in many aspects for the public. The former president finished by stating that all that was now left for the public was to go vote.
“September 7 is the day we vote to regain the development that we lost on February 7, 2012.”
Parade of Pledges
Prior to the rally, MDP held a parade down Majeedhee Magu with over 8,000 supporters.
In addition to Nasheed, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, Male’ City Mayor Ali Manik, and several MDP MPs were seen in the frontlines of the parade.
The atmosphere appeared festive, with different groups performing different acts throughout the parade.
Besides pompoms, streamers, and balloons, each ward of Male’ had prepared a small truck to represent one of the pledges included in the party’s manifesto.
While one truck represented the health insurance policy – with actors depicting a scene in a hospital’s maternity ward – another represented the guest house policy – with an actor lounging on a truck designed to look like a beach.
Traffic police officers provided security throughout the parade.
Contrary to some previous demonstrations and rallies, no hostility was observed between police and participants of MDP’s rally.
Minivan News observed one policeman being asked by rally participants if he had received a letter from Nasheed, adding that if he had not then he must be ‘baaghee’. The young participants were referring to a speech delivered by Nasheed last week, in which he stated he had sent letters to all police officers, except those who had directly partaken in what the MDP alleges to be the February 7 coup d’etat.
The policeman responded by taking a folded up piece of paper out of his pocket and showing Nasheed’s signature on it to the supporters who had questioned him.
“I am not a baaghee. We will win ‘eh burun’ [in one round],” he said
Read the full MDP Manifesto here (Dhivehi)