Youth Minister Dr Hassan Latheef has said the ministry has budgeted Rf 19 million (US$1.5 million) to be given out as loans for young people to pursue higher education.
Latheef said the money would be distributed to provinces equally, with a view to increasing the number of educated professionals in the islands.
While Latheef claimed that during the MDP’s campaign across the islands he had witnessed a great amount of support for the ruling party among youth, the ongoing lack of education and employment opportunities for young people in the Maldives has led many to become involved in crimes, drugs and gang violence.
President Mohamed Nasheed has previously said that there is “not even a single family in the Maldives that has not been affected by drugs.”
In an effort to understand the country’s drug trade and its impact, Minivan News interviewed several self-described drug dealers in May last year, and was told that more treatment facilities and job opportunities would curb addiction.
One claimed to earn “at least Rf15,000 every day” (US$1167) selling drugs, approximately Rf465,000 per month (US$36,186).
”Everyday one person will buy at least three to five packets, sometimes people from the islands come and buy 40 packets also,” he said, claiming that each 0.03 gram ‘packet’ (of brown sugar) cost Rf 100 (US$7.70).
“All gangs are operated by people and money. Gangs earn money by selling drugs. If someone gets stabbed also the gangs would provide them with medication and financial assistance,” he told Minivan News, adding that drugs were imported into the country 1-2 kilograms at a time “with the assistance of high-profile people in the country.”
“Real drug dealers” did not use drugs themselves, he added.
Police statistics for 2010 showed that most arrests made across the Maldives in 2010 were for drug offences (1153), assault (941) and theft (773), and that most of these were first time offenders.
While the bulk of those arrested were young men aged between 17-23, key crimes committed by minors (aged under 18) were assault, theft and drug offences – albeit with an overall decline in 2010 on 2009.