The ruling Progressive Coalition has launched its local council campaign “My stake – development is certain” last night at the Alimas Carnival in Malé.
President Abdulla Yameen said a local council election win was necessary for the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and its coalition partners – the Jumhooree Party (JP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – to deliver on campaign pledges.
“When we do not win those seats, when we do not receive cooperation from the Majlis and councils, when we are unable to [deliver], then there is no point speaking on the matter,” Yameen said.
In a democracy, citizens must provide the opportunity for a government to fulfill its campaign pledges over the opposition holding the government accountable, he continued.
Yameen pledged to provide services outside of the government budget by utilizing existing resources. Further, the PPM administration will provide promised benefits to fishermen, farmers and elderly through an insurance scheme, he said.
The PPM had promised MVR10,000 (US$ 648) cash handouts for fishermen, MVR8000 (US$ 518) for farmers and MVR 5000 (US$ 324) for the elderly during the presidential campaign. But on assuming power, Yameen opted for insurance scheme over direct cash.
“We must not worry about funds [for pledges] in the budget. These are not things you do through the budget. They will be provided through an insurance scheme,” he said.
Speaking on his recent visit to India, Yameen said the Maldives cannot face global political currents alone and needed help from the international community. However, despite India’s promise of aid, the Maldives would not give up “an inch” of its territory, he said.
The Maldives foreign policy will be based on increasing foreign investment and aid, Yameen said.
He also pledged to strengthen the Maldives’ banking sector, stating that the Bank of Maldives was reluctant to release large loans to one party or to invest in profitable enterprises despite having the money to do so.
“God willing, we will end these practices. There are additional ways for the bank to make profits. We will bring those changes,” he said.
Speaking on the vacant MMA governor’s position, Yameen said he had nominated a “capable” female nominee.
Yameen’s half-brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and JP’s leader Gasim Ibrahim also called on the public to grant a majority of local council and parliamentary seats for the Progressive Coalition to allow the government to fulfill its pledges.
The JP backed Yameen in the second round of polls in November 2013 after the PPM allegedly promised the party over 30 percent stake in government and local council and parliamentary seats. Local council elections are set for January 18 and parliamentary elections are scheduled for March.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) launched its local council campaign in December 2013, promising to empower local councils if the party wins a majority in both elections.