Finance ministry snubs parliamentary committee

Finance Minister Ali Hashim failed to appear before parliament’s internal affairs committee today, after he was called to clarify the manner in which independent institutions in the Maldives are funded.

Hashim was asked to appear after institutions including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Election Commission (EC) and the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) complained to parliament that they lacked financial independence and must “beg” for funds from the Finance Ministry.

“He left the country,” said independent MP Mohamed Nasheed, the committee’s chair. “He said he was preoccupied during the first time we set, so we sent him a formal letter rescheduling the meeting for this morning at 11:15am. He didn’t respond and we learned he had left the country.”

Nasheed said the committee had instead asked the State Finance Minister Ahmed Assad to appear, “but he said he was in another meeting. I said he should give this one priority, so he sent two junior officers.”

Nasheed said the committee had decided to invoke article 99 of the constitution and force Hashim to attend the next committee meeting after 9 January. That article allows: “the People’s Majlis or any of its committees the power to summon any person to appear before it to give evidence under oath, or produce documents.”

“If he doesn’t appear, we’ll make a report to parliament questioning his confidence,” Nasheed warned. “He’s being irresponsible and it’s so unnecessary and uncalled for.”

Hashim was unavailable when Minivan News attempted to contact him.

A question of independence

Independent institutions are currently required to seek approval from the Finance Ministry for all funding, a situation they argue undermines their ability to function independently of the executive.

“It is actually a problem,” explained Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem. “We haven’t had financial independence and we have to seek approval from the finance ministry to run programs. The money has already been budgeted and there is no need for us to be overseen by the finance ministry.”

During a meeting between the parliamentary committee and the heads of independent institutions, HRCM President Ahmed Saleem complained that the process undermined the commission’s integrity by leaving it unable to pay bills on time.

“We just got the money yesterday to pay for an invoice received two to three months ago,” he said. “This undermines our credibility.”

Saleem noted that while the PGO had yet to have a request for its money denied, the EC had not been so lucky.

“97 per cent of the finances we had allocated for training this year are still untouched and it is already December,” complained Mohamed Farooq from the EC.

“We don’t get any finance for our programs unless the Finance Ministry approves it. They are the ones who decide if we should conduct training programs.”

The prosecutor general, HRCM, EC and ACC “are all reading from the same script on this issue,” Nasheed said.

“Even when their budgets have been approved they still have to ask for permission, because the money is not physically transferred to a separate account.”

Furthermore, he said, the ministry’s decision to reduce the salaries of staff in independent institutions by 15 to 20 per cent “was made in violation of the laws used to create those institutions.”

The finance minister had previously suggested a percentage of the institution’s budgets might be made available, “but that still doesn’t solve the issue,” Nasheed argued.

“They see this as encroaching on their independence. If there is less money available then the budgets of these institutions should be subject to quarterly review and adjusted by parliament.”


5 thoughts on “Finance ministry snubs parliamentary committee”

  1. As we all know none of these so called independent institutions are responsible to generate any income. They only spend it! Its the government who has to earn. Its the government who has to take the blame for not earning enough or not spending on what's most important for us. If there is a shortage of funds they simply cant give it. The Majlis keeps on increasing spending via the budget without giving a thought on how the state is going to earn those funds. Its ridiculous. There has be a sensible way to doing this I guess.

  2. This situation with finance minister shows the incompetence of the person. I think in a democratic state the minister should be a very responsible person. Hence his action shows he is not abiding the legal process. In other democratic state the independent institutions are given financial freedom like the UK.

  3. This is laughable stuff for sure!

    Mr. Hashim should have been answering anyway! He has a responsibility there, but;

    It is not only The Prosecutor General, The HRCM, The EC and The ACC who will be reading the same script when it comes to the issue of money especially when it is scarce!

    Everyone of the past syndicate government, I would say (where every one has had a share), from where they have been getting ample amounts as bonus, benefits, or whatsoever, or otherwise or howsoever, will read this same script.

    In real time when money was printed (as as and when wanted), nothing was the matter! These independent bodies (as independent as they have been and as they are now) did not see or think (so as to say), that the syndicate government was plundering the nation and making debtors of not only them, but their children, their grand children or their great grand children!!!!!!!!!

    It is only we citizen who do not know to read this script!

    Where was the Mr. Mohamed Nasheed the now great independent parliamentarian (who worked for the syndicate government then as a ?)?

    Cannot we learn to give the people a fair chance to recover and to reconstruct our broken bodies?

  4. It is difficult to face the truth but the truth of the matter is,
    1. during the past 30 years we did not have this sort of financial trouble.
    2. if the former government was still in power we still would not be in the financial turmoil it is in.

    am sure if the government changed 20 years back, this government would have brought the economy to the state it is.

    3. the government says they dont have money, but they have more appointees than the previous government.
    4. they are still appointing multiple people to do the same work.
    5. there are more state owned companies today than there ever was.
    6. and there are more foreign trips in 2009 by the state budget.

    the amount being spent on party members and appointees do not show a scarcity in finance but only shows the inability to manage the budget.

  5. Independent commissions and Bodies separate from the bodies of Governance has an important role as the watchdog for humanitarian rights, womens rights among others. Their service/product is 'welfare', 'improvement of quality of human life'. The financing of its operations are therefore indubitably important.

    What these commissions should realize is, that in times of economic turmoil its operational costs need to be cut down to a manageable size.

    Government too should prioritize the financing of these institutions and try to cut down on its own operational costs and finance allotted to political appointees.


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