The proposed MVR24.3 billion (US$1.58 billion) 2015 state budget is not aimed at delivering the promises made in the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s manifesto, says the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
MDP Vice-Chair Ahmed Ali Niyaz said today that the party’s budget committee had researched the proposed budget and concluded it to be “aimless”.
“The current government has submitted a budget like those for Maumoon’s regime which serves for administrative purposes alone,” said Niyaz.
Niyaz added that the MDP had submitted programme budgets under a strategic action plan during its time in office.
The party’s MP for the Gan constituency, Fayyaz Ismail also accused the government of manipulating the methodology for calculating the country’s GDP in order to show a double digit figure.
“Given the high expenditure of the budget, if the income generating measures fail, the budget deficit might increase to MVR5 billion (US$330 million),” said Fayyaz today.
While presenting the 2015 budget to the parliament for approval last week, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad stated that the estimated budget deficit 2015 would be MVR1.3 billion (US$84 million).
“If the government fails in gaining supplementary loans it might have to resort to printing money which would severely harm the country’s economy,” continued Fayyaz.
Jihad had noted that MVR3.4 billion (US$ 220 million) would be raised from new income generating measures including the introduction of a green tax, and acquisition fees from the investments coming under the new Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act.
MDP Budget Committee Chair, Hussain Amru today called such expectations “unrealistic”.
“If the government is looking to raise MVR1.5 billion (US$100 million) as acquisitions fees at a rate of 10 percent of the total investment, it suggests that the government expects MVR15.3 billion (US$ 1 billion) in investment,” stated Amru .
The single biggest investment in the country to date was the ill-fated MVR7.6 billion (US$ 500 million) deal with India’s GMR group for the development Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) in 2010. A Singapore court of arbitration is currently evaluating the amount owed by the government for the wrongful termination of the deal in November 2012.
The MDP today listed the programmes announced by the government that were not accounted for in the 2015 budget, which included the proposed Kulhudhuhfushi airport, subsidies for fishermen and agricultural workers, and the promised flats for newly wedded couples.
“MVR100 million (6.51 million) has been allocated for conducing the feasibility study of the Malé-Hulhulé Bridge,” said Amru. “However the government informed us that the feasibility study was conducted with grant aid from the Chinese government. Where is the 100 million going to?”
The party said they had submitted their report to the parliamentary group, which would raise these concerns during the budget review process.