President Dr Mohamed Waheed has announced that work is to restart on a project to construct 300 flats for Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers and their families.
Dr Waheed said Thursday (August 15) that the government had previously failed to provide enough attention to the welfare of MNDF officers, who also required rights as Maldivian citizens, according to the President’s Office website.
President Waheed said the 300 flats being provided to officers were expected to be completed by next year, adding that his government would work to ensure the project faced no further delays or suspensions.
He also denied that the flats were being provided to officers “as a favour from those in power”, stating that the housing was being given as a duty of the government.
Flats for police officers
The government’s decision to restart the flat construction for MNDF officers was announced after President Waheed earlier this month handed 50 flats on the island of Hulhumale’ to the country’s “top 50” police officials.
Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News at the time that the 50 officers presented with housing were required to undergo an “internal” selection procedure, based on specific criteria outlined by the institution itself.
Haneef explained that all officers who applied for the housing were then judged on a points system using the aforementioned internal criteria, with the “top 50” officers being selected.
Since President Waheed’s government came to power during the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, which followed a mutiny by sections of the police and military, more than 1000 officers have been promoted, while 110 new police officers were hired.
A housing scheme has also been introduced for police officers, with 300 flats to be constructed in Hulhumale’, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile has raised concerns whether the 50 flats – which it contends forms part of the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ (decongestion) project launched under the previous government in 2011 – were being given to the most deserving.
MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has previously said it was “very concerning” that police should be given flats exclusively, to the detriment of teachers, doctors and other civilians. He also questioned how officers themselves had been selected for the process.
“The intention for these flats was for the needy and people who deserved them. This is why these flats were built,” he added.
President Waheed awarded the housing days after Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz declared that police would continue to refuse any orders deemed by the institution to be “unconstitutional”.