The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen has told the population of Kudahuvadhoo that development is “pointless if people can’t relax.”
“The end result of all this effort, of constructing harbours, and sending our children to school, should be to ensure that people can relax and live in peace, happiness and freedom. Otherwise there’s no point in doing all this,” Yameen was reported as saying during a campaign rally.
The PPM candidate is also said to have urged voters to say no to politicians who disturb the peace and make unrealistic promises.
Yameen’s comments echo his prior argument that the worst kind of extremism in the Maldives is the encroachment on other people’s rights.
The comments follow the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) pledge to implement 137 development projects worth MVR 30 billion (US$1.9 billion) over five years by the PPM’s primary opponent.
In the party’s detailed ‘Costed and Budgeted’ manifesto, former President – and current candidate – Mohamed Nasheed explained that the manifesto included 51,000 job opportunities, a savings scheme for higher education, a student loan scheme, 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 also pointed out the importance of introducing a development bank in the Maldives.
“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,” Nasheed told a crowd of 8,000 on Saturday (August 24).
The current government’s – of which the PPM is a partner – decided to suspend development projects this year after the state was found to have exhausted its annual budget for recurrent expenditure (including salaries, allowances and administration costs) in the first quarter of 2013.
President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan has blamed the current economic situation on the excesses of the Nasheed government.
The decision was made in same month that currency reserves in the Maldives were found to have “dwindled to critical levels”, according to the World Bank’s biannual South Asia Economic Focus report.
Criticisms made by Yameen in Kudahuvadhoo were also addressed at the MDP rally earlier in the week, with Nasheed railing against politicians who campaign by promising gifts to certain individuals and communities.
Jumhoree Party (JP) candidate Ibrahim Gasim has come under fire from both the MDP and the PPM this week, with PPM spokesman Ahmed Nihan describing the JP’s campaign as effectively “dumping money” in certain parts of the country.
Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom also travelled to Kudahuvadhoo as the campaign entered its final ten days. The PPM leader told the island’s people that the “shattered” economy could only be mended by his half-brother Yameen.
“Our economy is seriously damaged and destroyed. This is not the way it should be, and this is not how it was before either,” said Gayoom.
After succeeding Gayoom, Nasheed was said to have inherited “the most challenging macroeconomic situation of all democratic transitions that have occurred since 1956”, according to the World Bank.