Maldives Gas limits supply to restaurants and cafes

The Madives Gas Pvt Ltd has limited the supply of bottled gas to restaurants, eateries and cafes following a delay in a shipment due to arrive next Sunday.

Managing Director Abdulla Maumoon told online news outlet CNM that a cargo boat carrying the shipment of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) was delayed due to bad weather in the region and was now expected to arrive two days late on Wednesday, August 26.

If restaurants and cafes bring two empty containers, Maumoon said the company would refill two with the remaining to be filled after the shipment arrives.

No restrictions would be placed on providing gas to households, he added, noting that one day’s worth of gas has been held in reserve.

In June 2013, resort operators and businesses across the Maldives were forced to dramatically alter menus and even temporarily close entire restaurants after weeks of disruptions to the supply of LPG.


Malé City Council to bring back 24 hour shops and cafes

Malé City Council has decided to bring back the 24 hour service at cafes and shops, seventeen months after it was banned by Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government.

The proposition was passed unanimously by nine members present at yesterday’s council meeting (March 18), though the government has suggested that it does not have the authority to make such decisions.

Councilman Shamau Shareef said that the council decision came in response to a number of request from Malé City residents.

“This is what the people want. The former government discontinued the permissions to operate such places citing criminal activity and instability in the city. But now we have an elected government, and we think it should be reconsidered now,” said Shamau.

He noted that council have now been tasked with issuing trade permits for the city and it is in the council’s mandate under the Decentralisation Act to address this issue.

But the Ministry of Economic Development has today said that the issuing of trade permits was delegated to the council under a memorandum of understand with the ministry, which does not allow issuing 24 hour license.

“The government decided to end the running of 24 hour businesses. From that point the procedure for issuing trade permits were changed. City council have been tasked with issuing permits under those procedures,” the ministry’s Director General Usman Shakir was quoted as saying in Haveeru.

Shakir said that the government has not yet changed it’s position on allowing 24 hour businesses, and warned that the ministry will take action if any such permission is issued.

Responding to the ministry’s statement Councilman Shamau said that there are “some barriers” in implementing the decision, but the council is willing to overcome these issues by discussing it with the ministry.

“We will do whatever it takes. This is the capital city, and there are 24 hours ferries operating, people coming from other islands, people are working round the clock. There should be some way for them to eat or buy things they need. We are talking about basic necessities of the people,” he said.

President Mohamed Nasheed’s government decided to issue permits for 24 hour businesses in December 2010. After the change in government, Dr Mohamed Waheed’s administration in October 2012 decided to put an end to these opening hours.

The ministry’s official reason for decision was national security concerns. There was a high level of concern about increasing rates at the time, particularly with political instability and the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali within the same month.

While it is not known whether the decision had any positive impact in reducing crime rates, the parliamentary national security committee at the time suggested impact it had was negative.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party at the time described the decision as an attack against small and medium businesses which ‘left thousands of people unemployed’. Resuming the permits was an election pledge of the party’s presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed in 2013.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives was at the time a coalition member of the government, and President Abdulla Yameen was elected as president, the party has maintained support for the ban on 24 hours businesses.

When the permits were revoked in 2012 there were forty four businesses with permit in Malé city, now all shops have to be closed at 11pm and all cafes at 1am.


Food and drink outlets given later closing times during Ramadan

Food and drink outlets such as cafes and restaurants will be permitted to remain open until 3:00am during Ramadan this year, local media has reported.

The extended closing time has been approved in order to cater for late dining during the Islamic holy month, Economic Development Minister Ahmed Mohamed has told Sun Online.

Retail stores will still be required to be closed by 11:00PM as normal.


Parliament committee passes implementing tobacco-free zones as scheduled

Tobacco-free zones are to be implemented from January 1, 2013, after the Subordinate Regulations Committee of the People’s Majlis decided not to delay their introduction, local media has reported.

Entitled “Regulation of Determining Tobacco-Free Zones”, the regulation aims at inhibiting the consumption of tobacco products by prohibiting smoking in certain public areas.

Traders’ associations and MP for Nolhivaram Constituency Mohammed Nasheed proposed to delay the starting date of the Regulation for one year, according to local newspaper Haveeru.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs were reported to have  supported the proposal to delay the starting date, claiming there to be “a lot of issues” with the regulation.

After considering the matter, the Subordinate Regulations Committee made a final decision on a narrowly-approved vote.

Under the new regulation, smoking or similar consumption of tobacco will be prohibited within the following places; tea shops, cafes and restaurants, parks, government office premises, office premises of companies with government shareholding, office premises of independent state institutions, public places where people usually gather in numbers, old age homes, homes for those who need special care, and rehabilitation centres.

However, under special permission from the Ministry of Health, cafes and restaurants can define a special area where people can smoke.