The minority opposition People’s Alliance Party (PA) led by Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said issued a statement responding to the presidential address of Mohamed Nasheed delivered on March 3 during the opening ceremony of parliament’s first session of this year. The PA boycotted the first session of parliament.
‘’Peoples Alliance recognises and appreciates the slight change of tone of the Presidential Speech of 2011, although he partly fulfilled the purpose of the speech, he had failed to address the real issues facing his administration and the country,’’ said PA in the statement.
The PA said that the president did not mention the issues of corruption and mismanagement in his administration, and claimed that the citizens were disappointed because Nasheed had made no plans to solve these issues.
‘’The public was hopeful that the President would address the significant issues of 2010 and inform the public of policy changes to facilitate an atmosphere of trust between the government and opposition parties,’’ the PA said. ‘’We believe that this is important because the President lacks the ability to sit down with opposition parties. We also believe that sitting down together is not enough, the President needs to have the ability to sit together and work sincerely with opposition parties.’’
The President’s speech was presented more as a philosophy than a specific proposal, the PA claimed. “For example, the President expressed his intension to strengthen regulations within the context of the existing laws and implement those regulations to increase the value of Maldivian currency, but failed to explain the specifics of what he meant and what policy changes the business community should expect.”
The party claimed Nasheed’s remarks on deficit reduction were “misleading.”
‘’The forecasted deficit of 2010 wasn’t reduced by efforts of cost reduction. In reality, the Rf1.2 billion (US$78 million) received by privatisation of the airport was recorded as income and used for recurrent expenditure of the budget. Therefore the expected budget deficit of Rf3.8 billion was reduced to Rf3.1 billion using this income,’’ the party said. “The only measure to reduce deficit in 2010 was to cut down the salaries of civil service. The number of political appointees is increasing year by year.”
PA said Nasheed’s statement on external debt “does not clearly draw the picture.”
At US$607 million we are witnessing a significant increase in the official external debt of the past two years, said the PA.
“We believe that the actual figure will be even higher than this.” PA claimed. “Because since the IMF has restricted the direct borrowing of the Ministry of Finance, the government has started borrowing through government companies by giving comfort letters to companies such as the Works Corporation for politically motivated projects.’’
These projects, PA claimed, would not bring any income to those companies and that the government would have to pay for these debts itself. ” Therefore the overall debt will be even higher than US$607 million.’’
The President’s proposal to strengthen regulations and implement them to increase value of rufiyaa “could mean that he will implement tight controls and control foreign currency exchange, from an economic point of view,” said PA.
‘’We strongly believe that the value of rufiyaa cannot be appreciated through force and strict regulations,’’ said the PA. ‘’Instead we need fiscal responsibility and economic stability to appreciate the value of rufiyaa.’’
The party said that providing housing ‘’is yet another tool to manipulate voters.’’
‘’The government’s plan to offer 25,000 square feet of land of subsidy for 10 housing units worth US$35,000 has failed, and until today not even one housing unit has been delivered from the 10,000 units promised.”
The PA said the few housing units that the government could deliver to the people would be delivered in 2013, “for no reason but to influence the presidential election.”
‘’The policy of duty exemption to the north and south regional ports is not a policy to increase trade in that area,’’ added the party. ‘’Rather it gives the opportunity to give tax exemption to a few businesses that are affiliated with the government.’’
The PA also said that although the President had stated that the capacity of the airport would be increased under its contract with GMR, ‘’the new development plan doesn’t include a new runway.’’
‘’That means only the same number of flights or a slight increase can be expected, since we are operating on a tight schedule even now,’’ the PA claimed. ‘’Additionally the privatisation of the airport does not help the dollar shortage. Dollar earnings for the airport and fuel will be repatriated outside the country while the payments by GMR to Maldivians and Maldivian parties will be paid in rufiyaa,” the PA alleged.
The PA accused Nasheed and his government of either “lacking basic knowledge” on the nation’s economy, or “lacking sincerity and commitment to solve the economic issues.”
‘’The contradicting statements of the President regarding the dollar shortage are a fact supporting that President Nasheed is having difficulties understanding the economy,’’ said PA.’’While he is so concerned with climate change and internal affairs of other countries to get fame, we suspect he is not even seriously thinking about the national security and the impact of his policies on our economy.’’
PA urged the President ‘’to drop out of campaign mode’’ and face reality.
“At the end of the day success will be measured by outcome. Vision does not create jobs, we need to see meaningful and sustainable real action.’’