Foreigners barred from cashier jobs as President promises work for Maldivians

Economic development minister Mohamed Saeed has told local media that it will be illegal to hire expatriate workers as cashiers from April 2015.

“A large percentage of the Maldivian youth is unemployed and looking for employment,” Saeed told Haveeru. “All they need is support and guidance”.

Saeed’s announcement closely follows comments made by President Abdulla Yameen yesterday noting that new economic opportunities were being created for Maldivians, not foreign workers.

“This is not to say anything of disrespect to any neighboring or foreign countries,” said the president. “But these jobs are created by the Maldives. Be it in the tourism industry, from hotel industry work to refrigerator work, these jobs are not created for foreigners, but for the Maldivian Youth.”

Yameen’s comments came during the graduation ceremony of the ‘Dhasvaaru 2014’ vocational training programme yesterday evening (December 30).

“The government’s current policy for strengthening the economy is working towards the theme ‘Maldivian work for Maldivians’. The economy is creating jobs, the economy is filling those jobs with Maldivians. This will result in a sound economy,” said the president.

Youth employment has been a major focus of the Yameen administration, which has pledged to create 94,000 new jobs during its five year term.

Economic development minister Saeed is reported to have told Haveeru today that authorities will stop issuing quotas to foreign workers for work as cashiers, after having received a number of complaints.

During yesterday evening’s ceremony, President Yameen reminded the graduates that their job security entirely depended on their work ethic, enthusiasm, and competence – noting that these qualities must be self taught.

“Even if you know how to do the work very well, even if you are very skilled, you will still have to develop proper work ethics on your own.”

Local youth-led NGO Democracy House states unemployment among the youth (aged 15-24) may be as high as 43 percent.

Youth employment

A recent Democracy House publication, however, highlighted a “disconnect” between the current school curriculum and life skills, noting that many were “not able to handle adult responsibilities after we leave school.”

While the government has established a youth unemployment register with 13,000 individuals, youth minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal has reported receiving complaints from businesses about individuals failing to attend interviews and quitting jobs within a few weeks.

Earlier this month, Maldives Airports Company Ltd head Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem told a Majlis committee that difficulties with local staff had resulted in a dependence on foreign employees, and even military assistance, to keep the international airport running.

After being summoned to the government oversight committee regarding the company’s failure to replace foreign staff with local employees, Saleem informed MPs that 500 employees were currently on leave.

“We loaded and unloaded cargo three times with assistance of army personnel. I don’t think any of you know this. Our employee attendance is low. The process of letting go an employee, so complicated. The foreigners are there to bridge all this,” explained Saleem.

Shortly after his appointment as home minister late last year, Umar Naseer mooted the idea of national service for the country’s youth in order to instill discipline, as well as suggesting that many jobs carried out by foreign workers could be done by locals.

“There is no task too menial or lowly for a Maldivian,” said Naseer at the launch of a ‘Blues for Youth’ camp – organised by the police with the aim of preparing adolescents for the job market.

“None of the work currently being conducted by foreigners in this country is either lowly or dirty work. It is not something that we Maldivians cannot do,” said the home minister.

The 2014 census showed the expatriate population to be 58,683, although Minister of Defence Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim – who also heads the immigration department – has said the real figure is more likely to be double this amount.

As part of the government’s drive to reduce undocumented workers in the Maldives, Nazim’s department has deported or repatriated 7,962 undocumented foreign workers so far this year under a voluntary departure programme.

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“There is no task too menial or lowly for a Maldivian”, says Home Minister


28 thoughts on “Foreigners barred from cashier jobs as President promises work for Maldivians”

  1. 2pm today at airport pharmacy shop (which sells mostly lotions and cosmetics).

    The Seytu was anything but Maldivains.

  2. @ Good
    It is "read & understand"!!!

    "it will be illegal to hire expatriate workers as cashiers from April 2015."

    Got it now?

  3. Good move. Hope Maldivians will be afforded a sound wage for the work. Expect prices of goods and services to increase.

  4. Ladies and gentlemen, I think this government policy is firm and committed so help us (the Maldives) develop a working culture among the youth. Therefore, employer's commitment is essential to say that if you don't get fit, committed and proper Maldivians for the job as cashiers your shop remains shut and closed. Thanks !

  5. First question to ask is: how come these jobs are not done by Maldivians now? Protectionism is short sighted and rarely an answer.

  6. Foreigners are sometimes more dependable and trustworthy than maldivians. Its not a matter of just reducing expenditure.

  7. The simple answer is that most Maldivians don't know how to work. That's why foreigners get brought in for every single job, as we know how to get it done.

  8. Everyone knows most Maldivians are unqualified and too lazy to work and perform all job duties. That's why there are so many foreigners in the first place. Maldivians only want the job title and salary (not the work). They don't want to take the time and effort to do appropriate educational and vocational training for skilled jobs. And they think they're too good for manual labor even though their education is equal to that of middle school children in developed countries.

    Pretending to pray 5 times a day and Maldivian citizenship does not qualify you for any job your heart desires. And we all know, Maldivians show up late, leave work early, take extended prayer (coffee) and lunch breaks, call in sick, etc. The politicians are guilty as well, those guys don't do a damn thing. It's a culture of entitlement in Maldives with absolutely no work ethic. Only exception being a few fisherman. But with all that said, Maldivians should be doing all the work and they should send the foreigners home. But it will never happen and we all know that. The economy runs on foreign labor because forced/trafficked labor does unskilled work (that Maldivians should be doing) and skilled jobs can't afford to have tourist fatalities in planes, boats, hospitals, etc. (You need to have actual formal training from accredited institutions for these jobs, obviously not available in Maldives.)

    Moral of the story, time to grow up or shut up! The government (same one that's been in power for over 30 years now, minus 3 years) should have been investing in education and training rather than pocketing the cash from tourism for their own benefit. Now you just have a bunch of lazy brainwashed idiots thinking they should get money for nothing.

  9. this will be automatically stopped when Maldivian cashier go our for smoke or coffee, go to pee,
    go to drop girl friend , using calculator for small counts, and cheat employer with money and wrong stocks.

    If not Maldivian will never provide opportunity for foreigners by paying visa, accommodation , food and air ticket expenses.

    In nature Maldivian youth already spoiled and not guided from childhood. No so called working culture as all.

  10. @ Nova

    Most Maldivains now feel they are also foreigners even if its their country. So I guess Maldivains can now be trusted... since they feel like foreigners too.

    And, please talke sense.

  11. Foreigners are already barred from cashier jobs by a regulation announced around 2005/06, not sure exactly when.
    It was ignored, not enforced and forgotten.
    Funny the Economic Minister speaking of enforcing an existing rule, making it sound like the ban is his very original idea.

  12. Better create a support department in police and the Home Ministry, to ensure sufficient back end staff is available to the expected swindling issues this will create.

    The till registers would register a sharp drop from April onwards.

  13. Maldivains has traditional work ethics like fishermans.But if you pay peanuts, then you get monkeys. Thats why Maldivains do not take low paying jobs.

    Maldives now have a better welfare system as compared to 5 years back, so the situation will improve.

    The solution is to have high salaries and introduce income tax. Foreigners win in the wage competition because they do not mind being exploited as there are no jobs in where they come from.

    If foreigners find Maldivians are lazy, why not leave them to their laziness and go home.

  14. Interesting - why does the government not support any schemes to encourage Maldivians to work in the Hospitality Sector and work with the resorts to employ locals, obviously not top on their list instead they pass a law to enforce this instead of actually helping at the cause with the schools and universities.

  15. Another breach of international regulations. Imagine the uproar when other countries respond by banning Maldivians from certain roles in overseas locations.

    You will find that many Maldivians send money back to family members, which in turn keeps the economy afloat, because tourism only benefits the owners and the corrupt.

    Once word of this spreads via Embassies and High Commissions back to their own countries, don't be surprised if work visas for Maldivians start to be refused at a higher rate.

    Additionally many overseas investors bring their own staff to ensure their business operate in accordance with company policy. Do you think new investors will come when they are barred from bringing qualified and trusted staff members, I think not.

  16. Most expats whom i have seen in resorts came with fake documents invited by their relatives or friends already in job inside resort. Actually we need to screen the expats better than saying they are all good and almighty. For example more than 20 bangladeshi workers are on birthday list on jan 1. how come so many on Jan 1 but not on any other day. Just one example of how rotten and fake the system of verification is.
    Another point is that in high end resorts also Maldivians do better than most expats. I am saying this with experience and knowledge. we just have it so much easy for expats to get jobs here than for locals. President Yameen may not be popular but he is not a fool. He will create more jobs in this sector and maybe win another 5 years by playing with the job market alone.

  17. Laws, rules and regulations already abound within the existing Maldivian legal framework that provides a certain (actually very high) level of protectionism for locals in the job market. But as someone else pointed out, most of these have been ignored, unenforced, and forgotten. And if memory serves right, this isn't the first time a government official has beaten this particular drum. So, sad as it may be, we can expect that this will end up being another headline soon to be forgotten, with the status quo remaining as it is.

    Going forward, you have to wonder what the government actually plans to do with regard to youth employment beyond rhetoric. How many SMEs are actually being consulted with regarding their employment policies, their financial constrains and other relevant data being collected. How many incentives will be provided to SMEs to participate in providing better youth employment opportunities, instead of the more likely fines that regularly forms the better part of government policy to getting businesses to enforce policies?

    And finally, how well will the government formulate both short term and long term education reforms to provide youth with the basic building blocks for better futures from a young age that will support a less entitled feeling population?

  18. Here's something many people here don't seem to get: the problem isn't the foreigners or having foreigners working in your country. In this globalised world there will be Maldivians working abroad and foreigners working in the Maldives and having this choice is a win-win situation. It gives everyone a better chance to pursue their own ambitions and it will broaden the perspective of the Maldives in general.

    The problem right now is on one side a lack of working ethics, but also a lack of unity.

    -Ethics: if you don't teach your kids at young age to take responsibilities, if you serve them, clean up for them, if they never have to do any work themselves, then you shouldn't be surprised to see most Maldivians have a lazy attitude when they're adults.

    Unity: if you want to improve working conditions and salary, union actions will be needed. The employers will not pay employees more out the good of their hearts. Work unions have made the difference in almost all countries who pay decent salaries an offer decent working conditions.

  19. @solution

    Maldivians don't have the skills to be paid high wages. That's why the salaries are low. Also, the Maldivian employers are greedy and don't want to pay living wages. Skills, education, training and work ethic are the solution. Then higher wages after people show up for work and actually do the job. Maldivians could never hack a real 40 hour work week in the West where you have to show up on time, stay until the end and actually do work rather than play on facebook or watch porn on your smart phone. Higher salaries for higher work output is the solution. Otherwise, 200-500 usd a month for sitting at a desk and doing nothing seems pretty fair to me.

  20. And Maldivians should be working in the resorts of course. But tourists aren't going to pay the high prices for luxury resorts and then have crap service from locals. Again, why employers use foreigners to do work that should be going to Maldivians. Good luck with guests at 4 Seasons, Anantara, etc. getting the local idea of "customer service", which is "give me your money and p**s off".

  21. Maldivians should be allowed to manage their country as they see it fit.
    So many young degree holders are jobless because foreign managers want locals to work according to their standard and ethics.
    We have a culture and we should be proud of it.
    Lazy? Who said we should work like slaves? Working life should be both enjoyable and productive.
    Sick leaves? We are allowed 30 days as per law. We are only humans and stress is an illness!
    People who come to Maldives should respect and understand us.
    Let's promote our culture and life style.

  22. if Maldives are lazy, dumb, ininteligent, uncultured, the Maldives would not be what it is today. It would be more like Sierra Lone or some Indian Village.


    and@DMF. There is no international regulation that that favours expats over nationals. What an idiot you are,

  23. @solution

    Of course there's many Maldivians who do a fine job. But there's no denying there's just as many whose work ethics aren't what they should be. But the problem is situated on a higher level: management to top level, politics, judiciary, police, ... Things like corruption, bribery, incompetence, irresponsibility and indeed laziness, ... are common there.

    Problems are created by exactly these groups. These people are only interested in power and money. The cheaper and more docile their employees are, the more they like it. They pay off politicians to make rules in their favor. The only way to get better conditions is for employees to unite and stand up for their rights. Don't expect politicians or employers to make the changes for you.

  24. solution on Fri, 2nd Jan 2015 5:26 PM

    I think you should check your facts before calling people idiots. I did not state expats get special treatment over nationals, only that you cannot restrict them from employment if they are better qualified than the other applicants in that area of employment.

    The International Labour Organisation of the United Nations deals with labour issues and as the Maldives is a member state they too are under this directive to ensure standards are adhered to, regardless of what nation the employee comes from. That means basic job security and ensuring countries do not abuse migrant workers.

    Now who is the idiot, would it be the one who can't spell Sierra Leone.

  25. I do not know about you. I am applying for a cashier's job in Hulumale tonight by express post. Waiting for an answer, I will keep my fingers crossed and my heart in prayer mood for the Gods that be.

  26. @Ahmedhi

    Tourists that go to local island guesthouses should respect the "traditional" lack of work ethic. But they don't have to tolerate it at a resort that costs $500-2000 a night. That's absurd! You don't get money for nothing just because you believe its your cultural right.

    International resort companies charge a lot of money for people to stay and customers don't enjoy waiting 30 minutes for a $20 drink to arrive because their waiter is too busy smoking and playing on his phone. Or if the place is understaffed because half the local employees are "sick" with loose motions.

    There are plenty of places in Asia that have far better service and more "culture" for a fraction of the price it costs to visit Maldives. Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka come to mind especially. It's all about competition in regards to attracting tourists. For $200-300 a night you can stay in a luxury resort or villa in Indonesia with attentive local staff, amazing beaches, diving/surfing, mountains, historic sites and temples, traditional markets, fresh and properly cooked food. So why would someone pay double that for half the service and half the recreational/cultural activities? Good marketing and exclusive luxury resorts that cater to customer needs.

    The tourism-hospitality industry is about the CUSTOMER, that's the whole point. And something most Maldivians just haven't quite figured out yet. You are not a budget destination so standards need to match the price. Self entitlement is a huge problem with the local workforce in Maldives. Hospitality industry is about catering to customer wants and needs, not what is convenient or easy for the staff. It's scary how many locals supposedly have "tourism" degrees but still don't understand this basic concept.

  27. Hi let's discussing, arguing, on things that don't matter, your president has set his foot on the right path, but what I have noted is basically maldivians have their noses in the air, that's why the bangladeshis are doing most of the jobs and draining the foreign exchange. Maldives should have more skill set courses
    1. A seaman training college, after all u guys goods at it. ( merchant navy requires a lot of them)
    2. Networking, computer languages, architects degrees, machinist. Courses.
    3. Inculcate from the lower classes the term " dignity of labor "
    4. If expats come to your country to work, you could go away and work bring in foreign exchange.
    The first option should be done on war footing, I mean a maritime university, turn to India as usual they can help you in setting it up.


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