Government withdraws decentralisation bill

The government has withdrawn the bill on decentralised administration after parliament reached an impasse on the controversial model of provinces in the proposed legislation.

At today’s sitting of parliament, Speaker Abdullah Shahid said the president’s office sent a letter informing him of the decision.

“Since it has become difficult to continue Majlis sittings due to disagreements among MPs on the bill on decentralised administration and as the public and political parties have requested that it be withdrawn, the president’s office said the bill was withdrawn to be submitted again in the first Majlis session of 2010 after making amendments following consultations with the public and political parties,” he said.


Four sittings have been cancelled over the past three days after the opposition-dominated committee selected to review the legislation presented its report with an amendment to scrap provinces.

The third and final reading of the bill where MPs propose and vote on amendments could not be continued after heated rows, points of order and unsuccessful negotiations forced the speaker to call off sittings.

Over 700 amendments were tabled, the majority from MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to reverse the changes made by the committee.

While MDP MPs argued the opposition was infringing on the government’s prerogative of implementing its agenda, MPs of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) maintained that dividing the 21 administrative areas to seven provinces was unconstitutional.

Under the government’s bill, they argued, an atoll council would be elected from a province that includes three or four atolls, leading to unequal representation.

Islanders from the less populous atolls would have to travel to the province capital for essential services, they said.

Moreover, the legislation would give provincial state ministers undue authority and influence over elected councils, including the power to dissolve the bodies.

Chapter eight of the constitution stipulates that “the administrative divisions of the Maldives shall be administered decentrally”, while giving the president powers “as provided in law, to create constituencies, posts, island councils, atoll councils and city councils”.

Article 230(c) states “the jurisdiction and characteristics of constituencies, posts and councils created to provide for decentralised administration shall be specified in law”.

Economies of scale

Speaking at the inauguration of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Male’ Area last night, President Mohamed Nasheed defended the government’s decentralisation policy.

Concentration of power and development in Male’ has led to congestion and neglect of the atolls, said Nasheed, adding devolving decision-making powers were necessary for the equitable distribution of wealth and prosperity.

But, he added, it was the government’s responsibility to pursue decentralisation in a manner agreed upon by all parties.

While he respected the DRP’s main proposal, the government believed electoral constituencies should be grouped together for administrative purposes.

The president said 54 per cent of the people endorsed the MDP manifesto and its policy of dividing the country into seven regions or provinces.

“It was impossible for a single island or atoll to develop in the manner in which a province could develop exploiting 40 per cent of its income and natural resources,” he said. “Decentralised governance through regionalisation will not be a win for any specific political party. In reality it will be a victory for the Maldives.”

Economies of scale would only be possible through the creation of provinces, he argued, and the government’s legislation proposed granting authority of 40 per cent of a province’s income to the councils.

Economies of scale refer to the benefits of large scale operations when more units of a good or service can be produced while decreasing the average cost of production.

Public interest

When parliament resumed at 2.30pm yesterday, MDP MPs as well as the Republican Party and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MPs urged the government to withdraw the legislation.

Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim, the sole representative of the Republican Party, said the bill should be withdrawn in the interests of social harmony and allowing parliament to proceed with other legislation.

Supporters of the two main parties gathered outside parliament to protest yesterday, leading to the arrest of activists from both sides. However, all who were taken into custody have since been released.

Gasim urged the president to exercise article 115(p) of the constitution and hold a public referendum on the issue of provinces.

The article authorises the president to hold referendums “on issues of national importance”.

Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed of the DQP reiterated the MDP criticism of the committee, invoking parliamentary rules of procedure that state committees could not make amendments that conflict with or negate the purpose of a bill.

“Therefore, considering the public interest and the rivalry of the two political parties, I would say the best thing would be for the government to take this bill back,” he said.

MDP parliamentary group leader “Reeko” Moosa Manik said the amended bill presented by the committee did not resemble the one proposed by the government at all.

Moosa called upon the government to withdraw the bill as it would not be able to pursue its policies or deliver on its promises with the committee’s version of the legislation.

At today’s sitting DRP MPs blamed the government and the MDP parliamentary group for the failure to pass the decentralisation bill as the constitutional deadline for local elections had elapsed in July.


5 thoughts on “Government withdraws decentralisation bill”

  1. wow ...i think maldivians misunderstood the true meaning of democracy and failed to grasp the concept .. may be we must have learned it from Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe..

    What i still dont understand is how can we do destroy us .. knowingly.

    decentralising ... does it hurt anyone ..... or may be some people just dont like to loose their future ? power... or may be they have got an agenda i dont know..
    what i do know is i want to see my country move forward.. i want to feel special when people from other country refers to me as a maldivian.. i want to feel the pride and status americans feel about their country.. i want people from other countries differentiate we maldivians been civilised , dicsiplined and rich country...

    No matter which party they are from .. their is a government and they have policies .. as long as they dont hurt the country ... and who are these people refering to justice etc .. are these the very same people who took part in draining the reserves of this beloved country of ours .. for 30 plus years... come one talk about hypocracy this is too much .. had 30 years of purposely slowed growth not enough ...or some people still finding hard to leave the coffins of corruption..

    Self Gain is the MOTTO.. thou shall not give importance for the helpless and the simple but thou shall help once self.. for there is nothing glorified in THE MALDIVES than the corrupt and hypocrates of yesterday , today and tommorrow

    God Save us all


  2. "My members at parliament! Kill ME first before you can think of voting for a bill of this sort" !

    Kill "ME" first ! Kill "ME" first ! May, say, the Joker to the thieves!

    It is gullible for the members of this parliament to oppose this bill (especially the ones who come from the atolls)!

    How can they??????

    If they do and decentralize;

    They cannot control the katheebs, loudmouths relatives and propaganda agents who virtually slave for a favour of enabling a stay somewhere while they are in Male', or assist them in their medicals (again through theemuge or some one),!

    These peoples then would have not much use for the parliament members (who before looked at them as bosses/lords or whatsoever).

    These katheebs, loudmouths, relatives and even the propaganda agent could be their equal or even more powerful in the decentralized governance system and would have no use for the parliamentarian who think no end of himself !!!!!!!!!!

    Hoh hoh hooooooo! Thats the catch !! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. well again the same thing.. we cant move forward with those ignorant Mp's in parliament.. forget about Maldives..

  4. There is no one method or one strict way for decentralization and this has to be for the betterment of the Maldives and its constituents. Therefore all MPs and government must think hard and choose the best method for it. I urge the government to be more responsible in drafting a bill and get independent ideas and public ideas in drafting a bill. The government should be operated for the people and according to their wants and desire. Therefore there should be a process for drafting bills and for amendments in the Committee as well. Even MPs must deliver their responsibilities and work for the betterment for the whole country. Policies must be developed with public opinion and expert ideas. Nobody must think that they are the expert and they have the right to make policies as they like, inside closed doors, we must make policies that can survive and that can be acceptable by our citizens and that it can be adopted to implement in our country by our people. We can’t simply do ‘policy transfer’ or ‘grab policies from garbage’ . It is crucial to understand the implementation stage and how to make it work. Such policies must need public support as well as the policy implementers support otherwise not matter how great or modernized the policy has been developed it will be a failure (we must learn from others e.g. Indonesia, Philippines, china decentralization process and its success and failures). In such case the PM and the government is responsible for the failure and it will be the citizens who will suffer at the end.

  5. We can't do anything here in our country as long as we have our present Mp's and members of Salafi.


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