The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) transportation committee has said that the proposed 2015 state budget does not give adequate importance to transportation.
While speaking at an MDP press conference today, the Committee’s Chair Dr Ahmed Shamheed said that the government has failed in fulfilling its manifesto which states that providing cheap, effective, and speedy transportation as one its aims.
“Even though the government recently announced that it has achieved 90 percent of the goals outlined in its manifesto, not even 1 percent of the transportation related goals have been achieved,” said Shamheed.
Shamheed noted that the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in its manifesto outlined that it would finish up the ongoing regional airport development projects. However, He said that no regional airports have been opened in the last year.
President Abdulla Yameen recently revealed plans of developing an airport in the north at Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhuhfushi in the upcoming year.
The government has secured a preliminary agreement for the development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, with the cabinet revealing recently that the Beijing Urban Group and Maldives Airports Corporation Limited had finished the drawings of the airport and were in the process of submitting the proposal to China’s Exim bank in order to finance the project.
Plans for the ambitious Malé-Hulhulé bridge project were also said to edging closer to realisation as a Chinese team visited the Maldives to conduct a preliminary survey this month.
While the record MVR24.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) proposed budget for the upcoming year allotted MVR63 million (US$5 million) for regional airports under the tourism ministry, it is unclear whether the amount is for recurrent or capital expenditure.
Also speaking at the press conference, MDP transport committee member Ahmed Zahir said that the atoll ferry system introduced during MDP’s government is currently in turmoil as the government does not prioritise development of the ferry system.
“The transportation systems in the atolls are being destroying and I am afraid that it might go back to the old days where the inter-atoll transportation was monopolised by individuals with boats,” said Zahir.
The MDP committee also slammed the government for budgeting expected revenues from increasing the import duty on vehicles and fuels, stating that the measures would have a significant impact on the guest house industry as travelling costs within the country would increase severely.
Previously, MDP’s education and training committee claimed that the funds allocated for education in the budget were poorly prioritised and would lead to corruption.
Additionally, the MDP budget review committee stated that the budget is ‘aimless’ and serves only administrative purposes, suggesting that programme budgets submitted during the MDP government were part of a strategic action plan aimed at fulfilling the party’s promises.
President Abdulla Yameen dissolved the Ministry of Transport and Communication in July, transferring regional airports to the Ministry of Tourism and the Transport Authority to the Ministry of Economic Development.
The move came shortly after the dismissal of Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim following break down of the election-winning coalition of the Jumhooree Party – of which Ameen is a member – and the PPM.