Flexible working arrangements introduced for mothers in the civil service

The Civil Service Commission has amended the regulations to allow flexible working hours and the option to work from home for pregnant women and women with children under three years of age who have “no proper caretaking arrangements”.

With the regulation coming into effect today, any eligible female civil servant can now apply to make such arrangements under a separate contract.

The amendment requires the human resource committees of all institutions to formulate a standard procedure for flexible work hours and working from home. These standard procedures should include criteria for allowing such work arrangements – to address difficulties in services that may arise, as well as the amount of work and time period required for the arrangement.

With both flexible work hours and working from home, employers will not get the normal one hour break in the afternoon, and institutions are allowed to reduce the employees salary if their working hours fall below that normally required.

As of December 2013, there were 24,207 civil servants in the country – approximately 54% of them women. Nearly 75% of women in the civil service work as teachers, nurses, and administrative staff.

A subsidised childcare system and allowing women to work from home through the internet was part of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) manifesto pledged by President Abdulla Yameen.

The Minister of Defense has earlier promised a day-care center for the Maldives National Defense Force.


IGMH may reduce employees following review

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) may reduce the number of workers employed at the site following a health institution structural review, local media has reported.

During former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration, IGMH employees were transferred under the Health Corporation.

However, under the current administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed, Health Minister Dr Ahmed Jamsheed then transferred all Health Corporation employees to government civil service November 1, 2012.

An IGMH official told local media that the hospital is “largely under the civil service structure” and the regular payment of salaries and allowances has been changed “according to service regulations,” however further changes are still needed.

“The change in structure was brought about after a delay of more than six months,” the official said.

Changes in the hospital’s structure and a “shuffle” of management are expected following the review, since civil service posts have duplicated some Health Corporation positions and so far the review shows the number of employees is “a little bit high”.


Population consolidation, rightsizing public sector essential to address budget deficit: Auditor General

A policy of population consolidation together with effective measures to reduce the public sector wage bill is necessary to address continuing budget deficits, the Auditor General has advised parliament.

The recommendations were made in a report (Dhivehi) submitted to parliament with the Auditor General’s professional opinion on the proposed state budget for 2013.

Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim observed that of the estimated MVR 12 billion (US$778 million) of recurrent expenditure, MVR 7 billion (US$453.9 million) would be spent on employees, including MVR 743 million (US$48 million) as pension payments.

Consequently, 59 percent of recurrent expenditure and 42 percent of the total budget would be spent on state employees.

“We note that the yearly increase in employees hired for state posts and jobs has been at a worrying level and that sound measures are needed,” the report stated. “It is unlikely that the budget deficit issue could be resolved without making big changes to the number of state employees as well as salaries and allowances to control state expenditure.”

The report noted that the bill on state wage policy recently passed by parliament would not address the issue as the legislation focused “mainly on reviewing salaries of state institutions.”

The Auditor General’s Office contended that “major changes” were needed to right-size the public sector and “control the salary of state employees and expenditure related to employees.”

The report observed that compared to 2012, the number of state employees is set to increase from 32,868 to 40,333 – resulting in MVR 1.3 billion (US$84.3 million) of additional expenditure in 2013.

This anticipated increase included 864 new staff to be hired by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), the report noted.

In light of “existing inefficiencies” in the state, the Auditor General contended that hiring more staff for various independent institutions would be “a waste of public funds” as it would divert resources from service provision and development projects.

“Moreover, we note that increasing the number of employees would lead to an increase in office expenses and expenditure on employees’ retirement and pensions, decrease the number of people left to do productive work in the private sector (decrease the labour force), and slow the growth of the country’s economy,” the report stated.

Details of the state’s wage bill included in the report showed that MVR 187 million (US$12 million) was budgeted as salaries and allowances for 545 political appointees in 2012.

In addition, MVR 1.98 billion (US$128.4 million) was to be spent on 18,538 civil servants; MVR 999 million (US$64.7 million) on 6,244 police and army officers; MVR 362 million (US$23.4 million) on 1,455 elected representatives and attendant staff; MVR 485 million (US$31.4 million) on 3,372 employees of independent institutions; and MVR 345 million (US$22.3 million) on 2,714 contract staff.

In 2011, the Finance Ministry revealed that MVR 99 million (US$6.4 million) would be spent on 244 political appointees annually as salaries and allowances.

According to the weekly financial statement released by the Finance Ministry, recurrent expenditure as of December 20, 2012 has reached MVR 8.9 billion (US$577 million). Roughly half was spent on employees.

Fiscal imbalance

A report by the World Bank in May 2010 identified the dramatic growth of the public sector wage bill as the origin of the Maldives’ ongoing fiscal imbalances.

According to the report, increases to the salaries and allowances of government employees between 2006 and 2008 reached 66 percent, which was “by far the highest increase in compensation over a three year period to government employees of any country in the world.”

“Between 2004 and 2009, the average monthly salary of a government sector worker increased from MVR 3,223 (US$250) to MVR 11, 136 (US$866),” explained a UNDP paper on achieving debt sustainability in the Maldives published in December 2010.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom responded to growing calls for democratisation with “a substantial fiscal stimulus programme” of increased government spending, “much of which was not related to post-tsunami reconstruction efforts.”

“This strategy led to a large increase in the number of civil servants from around 26,000 in 2004 to around 34,000 by 2008 or 11 percent of the total population. Thus the government simultaneously increased the number of public sector workers as well as their salaries,” the paper noted.

Consequently, recurrent expenditure – wage bill and administrative costs – exceeded 82 percent of total government spending in 2010. Presenting the estimated budget for 2013, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad noted that more than 70 percent was recurrent expenditure.

“As in other years, the highest portion of recurrent expenditure is expenditure on [salaries and allowances for government] employees,” Jihad explained. “That is 48 percent of total recurrent expenditure.”

Population consolidation

Meanwhile, the Auditor General’s report noted that the government planned to carry out 406 projects under the public sector investment programme (PSIP) at a cost of MVR 3 billion (US$194 million).

The Auditor General however contended that the projects were formulated “without a national development plan” and that there was “no relation between the PSIP’s purpose and the proposed projects.”

While the stated purpose and policy of the government was population consolidation, the report stated that the harbour, sewerage, land reclamation, housing, coastal protection and other projects were included in the budget “without a plan” for integrating island populations in urban centres.

The Auditor General’s Office therefore advised against carrying out the projects planned for 2013 in the absence of a plan for population consolidation.

The report observed that “the main reason the state’s recurrent expenditure has increased” was developing 200 inhabited islands “as single units” and attempting to provide healthcare, education, social, administrative and legal services to small island populations.

The report stated that pursuing a policy of population consolidation was “essential”.

It added that the return on the investment for relocating populations of small islands would be seen in savings from the state’s budget for providing services to geographically dispersed islands.

While implementing such a policy could prove difficult, the Auditor General’s Office believed that “a national consensus” could be reached on the need for consolidating population.

Moreover, a glance at the state’s expenditure showed that continuing fiscal imbalances or budget deficits were “inevitable” if such a policy was not formulated, the report stated.


The Auditor General explained that the fiscal deficit in 2012 was MVR 1.5 billion (US$97.2 million) more than forecast because of a shortfall in projected revenue from taxes and import duties as well as higher than budgeted expenditure on government companies and subsidies.

However, while revenue from Goods and Services Tax (GST), import duties and tourism land rent was lower than budgeted estimates, income from Business Profit Tax was more than expected at MVR 613.3 million (US$39.7 million).

The government also spent MVR 862.3 million (US$55.9 million) from the 2012 budget to settle bills outsanding from the previous year, the report noted

The Auditor General’s Office observed that revenue from the newly introduced GST was not enough to offset lost income from reducing and eliminating import duties.

“As a result of the change to the state’s taxation system, income to the state declined by MVR 495 million (US$32 million),” the report noted.

As reducing import duties had not resulted in a noticeable drop in prices, the Auditor General recommended reviewing the changes in consultation with the relevant authorities and amending the tax laws.

The 2013 budget

The Auditor General observed that the budget proposed for 2013 was 2.7 percent higher than 2012 and 19 percent higher than 2011.

An estimated budget deficit of MVR 2.33 billion (US$149 million) was to be financed by MVR 1.15 billion (US$74.5 million) in foreign loans and MVR 1.17 billion (US$75.8 million) in domestic finance.

Echoing a concern expressed by MPs during the recent budget debate, the Auditor General noted that projected revenue included MVR 1.8 billion (US$116 million) expected from new revenue raising measures that require parliamentary approval.

A recent mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had urged the government to implement a raft of measures to raise revenues, advising that strengthening government finances was “the most pressing macroeconomic priority for the Maldives.”

The measures proposed by the Finance Ministry included revising import duties, hiking T-GST from 8 to 15 percent in July 2013, raising airport service charge or departure tax from US$18 to US$30, introducing GST for telecom services and leasing 14 new islands for resort development.

On the last proposal, the Auditor General advised that the islands should not be leased without consulting the tourism industry and studying the impact of the decision in consideration of the tourism master plan.

The Auditor General concluded that it was “unlikely” that the new revenue would be collected in 2013.

Consequently, if there was a significant shortfall in income, the Auditor General warned that government revenue would not be enough to cover recurrent expenditure.

“Therefore, we note that it is very likely that MVR 509.9 million (US$33 million) would have to taken as loans to cover recurrent expenditure,” the Auditor General stated, advising that it was “necessary” to reduce recurrent expenditure by that amount before the budget is passed.

As a result of financing budget deficits with loans for the past six years, the Finance Ministry revealed earlier this month that government spending on loan repayment and interest payments was expected to reach MVR 3.1 billion (US$201 million) in 2012.

Moreover, the total public debt would stand at MVR 27 billion (US$1.7 billion) in 2012 and MVR 31 billion (US$2 billion) in 2013 – 82 percent of GDP.


Parliamentary reaction mixed as Majlis committee cuts MVR2.4billion from state budget

Opposition and government-aligned parties have given mixed reactions to a decision by Parliament’s Budget Review Committee to enact an almost 15 percent reduction to state expenditure proposed for 2013.

The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has claimed that cutting the budget to MVR 14.5 billion from a proposed MVR 16.9 billion would impact the provision of government services and functioning of independent institutions at a vital time.

The DRP added nonetheless that it has yet to make a decision on supporting the cuts when the reviewed budget is put to a vote on the Majlis floor.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile contended that the cuts would be made to “unnecessary” recurrent expenditure, such as transportations costs for 30-strong government delegations on overseas trips, as well as over MVR 400 million in office furniture and stationary.

While also hitting out at the “lousy” promises made by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan for allegedly unrealistic development projects, the former ruling party also stressed that existing wage bills were not expected to be affected by the proposed cuts.

The comments were made after parliament’s cross-party Budget Review Committee yesterday announced that it had trimmed the proposed annual budget budget to MVR 14.5 billion from the previous figure of MVR 16.9 billion.

The committee opted to make cuts to the budget based on recommendations from both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) Governor Fazeel Najeeb to ensure more manageable expenditure next year.

A recent mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had urged the government to implement a raft of measures to raise revenues, advising that strengthening government finances was “the most pressing macroeconomic priority for the Maldives.”

Some senior finance figures within the country have confirmed to Minivan News under condition of anonymity that the reductions made by the budget committee were an “encouraging” development in trying to manage state expenditure and that the proposals were likely to receive Majlis support.

However, DRP Deputy Leader and MP Dr Abdullah Mausoom has said that despite the party’s own concerns, it would wait for the government to decide whether it could function during 2013 with a reduced budget of MVR14.5 billion, before deciding whether to back the changes.

“We need to know whether the government thinks it can manage to function with this MVR 14.5 billion. If it can then we would have no problem,” he told Minivan News today.

Mausoom said that considering the cross-party composition of the Budget Review Committee that approved the cuts, support for the amendments in the People’s Majlis could prove likely.

“Debatable: Chucking 15 percent of Maldives budget is a deliberate attempt by MDP and PPM [government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives] to ‘choke’ government and institutions in 2013,” Dr Mausoom tweeted yesterday.

Mausoom contended today that the “drastic” nature of the proposed reductions had raised concerns about whether funding would be distributed “fairly and equally”, as well as having a detrimental impact on the running of the state.

“It is a shame that such drastic reductions have been made. We have had a very different year [in 2012] to other years with the change of government. With 2013 set to be a presidential election year should the budget be squeezed as a result of political rivalry,” he stated.

Mausoom said that of noticeable concern was how the budget cuts may potentially impact the work of independent institutions that he said would be increasingly vital over the course of a contentious general election next year. He added that a wide number of independent institutions in the country had already gone on record to address concerns about how the present budget would impact on their operations.

According to Mausoom, the MVR 16.9 billion budget presented to the Majlis by Finance Minister Abdullah Jihad earlier this month was already providing the “bare minimum” of funding needed to operate the state.

“There is a risk that when you cut into flesh you will go too far and touch bone. This nearly 15 percent reduction will impact services and independent institutions, we have to hear from government if it can manage with such finances,” he said.

With the budget amended by the committee now awaiting parliamentary approval, Mausoom added that the party had already been in general support of proposed measures to raise revenue.

State salaries

Amongst legislation considered by parliament ahead of approving the budget for 2013 has been the passing of a bill on state wage policy that will create a National Pay Commission tasked with determining salaries and allowances for the public sector.

In July, the Finance Ministry instructed all government offices to reduce their budgets by 15 percent, with only 14 of 35 offices complying by the given deadline.

However, in the same month the Finance Ministry decided to reimburse civil servants for the amount deducted from their salaries in 2010 as part of the previous government’s austerity measures.

The deducted amounts, totalling MVR 443.7 million (US$28.8 million), were to be paid back in monthly instalments starting in July.

The original budget proposal also included salary increases for military and police officers as well as plans to hire 800 new officers for the security services.

Combined with the transfer of about 5,400 employees in the health sector to the civil service, some MPs this month estimated that the state wage bill would shoot up by 37 percent.

When questioned on the government’s decision to reimburse civil servants and increase military expenditure for the current budget, Dr Mausoom said it was important for the country to prioritise rule of law in the country and respect the role police and military played in society.

He claimed that the biggest challenge on the budget was in fact dealing with what he claimed was years economic mismanagement, particularly during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) over the last three years.

Mausoom added that Nasheed government’s attitude towards privatisation had not helped with state expenditure, accusing the previous administration of staffing private corporations with political appointees to give the false impression the state had trimmed civil service employment.

In light of this alleged financial mismanagement by the former government, Mausoom argued that while there was a need to further streamline state expenditure under the present government, such cuts should be made gradually rather than the drastic cuts he believed had been proposed by the Budget Review Committee.

However, MDP MP for Nolhivaram and fellow review committee member Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said that the cuts would be made largely by reducing “unnecessary recurrent expenditures” within the budget.  As such, no civil service wages are expected to be touched by the cuts, he added.

Nasheed claimed that the committee had looked at specific areas of the budget where “fat” could be cut from state expenditure without directly impacting services.

“What we proposed was that there could be reductions to internal and external transport [for government employees],” he claimed. “We have big delegations going abroad at present. What we have called for is a 50 percent reduction of transport costs. It is not necessary to send 30 people abroad on trip. Five people could go for example.”

Another area Nasheed claimed cuts could be more easily made was in the purchase of new office furniture that could reduce spending by some MVR 451 million in line with the costs of supplies like stationary and paper. He claimed such expenses could be reduced through more effective online governance.

Cuts were also said to have to be made in the proposed provision of specific services to islands around the country, which Nasheed claimed had never been viable considering the current economic challenges facing the Maldives.

“The president has made many lousy promises on his tours of islands for developments that cannot be granted. We cannot work from a fantasy budget,”

Finance Minister Jihad, Economic Development Minister Ahmed Mohamed and head of the Parliamentary Financial Committee Ahmed Nazim were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

Budget criticism

When delivered to the People’s Majlis earlier this month, the state budget for 2013 presented by Finance Minister Jihad came under heavy criticism from both opposition and government-aligned parties over the course of a 16-hour budget debate.

MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’, MDP Parliamentary Group Leader contended at the time that the proposed budget could not be salvaged or improved through amendments.

Meanwhile, MP Abdulla Yameen, Parliamentary Group Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), said that the government’s objectives or policies could not be discerned from the proposed budget.

“These projects are very random or ad hoc. The government’s planning should be better than this,” he said.  Yameen was not today responding to calls.

While the debate over the budget regularly came to a halt due to frequent loss of quorum – most MPs complained of the lack of funds allocated for development projects in their constituencies. These projects included developments such as harbours, water and sanitation systems, additional classrooms and upgrades to health centres.

Earlier this month, State Minister for Environment and Energy Abdul Matheen Mohamed moved to play down reports that his department had slammed the proposed state budget for neglecting the “fundamental rights” of Maldivians, claiming there had been a “misunderstanding” with local media.

Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary Ahmed Saleem was quoted by the Sun Online news agency at the time as claiming that some 15 projects proposed by his department had been excluded from the budget. These projects were said to deal with issues including waste management, as well as supplying water and sewerage systems to more islands around the Maldives.

However, Matheen claimed that Saleem’s reported comments had been the result of a “misunderstanding” by its author.  He alleged that the journalist had focused on a few points of a long meeting with the committee.


Speaking to Minivan News earlier this week, Jihad reiterated that in trying to balance state spending with providing national developments, the government favoured a policy of population consolidation – relocating certain island populations to larger administrative areas.

He added that a strong focus had also been provided to amending revenue raising measures, while also trying to cut spending at government offices.

The Finance Ministry issued a circular at the beginning of the month to all government offices and state institutions with instructions to implement cost-cutting measures during the final month of the year that included cancelling all overseas trips.

However, Jihad maintained that the circular was not a long-term financial strategy, but rather a traditional measure imposed by the government during December.

“At the end of the year some offices have a habit of spending lavishly,” he said. “This is just a regular measure at this time of year to curb costs.”


“Administrative issue” behind delayed civil service wage payments: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has said that delays in paying wages to some state employees was the result of an “administrative issue” with the Bank of Maldives (BML) that was expected to be resolved by today.

Jihad told Minivan News that there were no issue maintaining civil servant salaries, adding that BML had been unable to credit accounts for the last few days. A BML spokesperson today responded that the company was “not aware of any such issues” concerning payments being made to accounts it held.

Meanwhile, several island councils have said they had not had any issues with providing wages to their staff.

Economic situation

The Maldives government last week said it was working on overcoming “economic difficulties” to cover several months of outstanding premium payments resulting from the Aasandha universal healthcare programme. Authorities are presently facing a 27 percent budget deficit that has already drawn concern from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Besides a crippling budget deficit, the Maldives is also facing a foreign currency shortageplummeting investor confidencespiraling expenditure, and a drop off in foreign aid.

Late last month the Finance Ministry also ordered all government institutions to immediately reduce their budgets by 15 percent.

However, Jihad denied that the present economic situation was adversely impacting the state’s ability to provide wages to civil servants this month.

“We are expecting crediting to occur as of today,” he said. “This is just an administrative issue with the bank.”

Both Civil Service Commission (CSC) President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan and Parliamentary Financial Committee Head Ahmed Nazim were not responding time of press.

However, a number of island councils have maintained that they have continued to receive state funding without any interruptions.

An official for the North Ari Atoll island of Maalhos’ Council Secretariat told Minivan News this afternoon that he was not aware of any issues concerning paying staff salaries, which had so far been received on time each month.

In Haa Alifu Atoll, Utheemu Island Councilor Asrar Adam said the council also had not experienced difficulties with paying wages

“We have been paying the salaries of the staffs on the last day of each month always and this month’s salary have been paid,” he said.

Island Councilor of Raa Atoll Innamaadhoo claimed that during the time of former President Mohamed Nasheed, the council was given funding for its 2012 salaries in advance – therefore ensuring it did not have any issues in paying staff.

“When our president was here everything went fine, we don’t have to worry about the salaries of 2012,” he said.

State revenue

The Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) last month published its second quarter report for 2012, detailing the majority of government revenue (with the exception of import duties).

The MIRA report highlights a 16.8 percent increase in revenue collected compared to the same period for 2011, attributable to the increase in tourism GST from 3.5 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2012.

Tourism land rent collected for the period was MVR 465.4 million (US$30.2 million)  – a drop of 24.9 percent that was 12.3 percent lower than expected.

Airport Service Charge revenue meanwhile fell 18.6 percent, to MVR 172 million (US$11.2 million).

Total revenue collection for the first half of the year was MVR 3.5 billion, an increase of 59.2 percent compared to the corresponding period of 2011, but 8.4 percent lower than projected.


Finance Minister to convene pay board despite professed reluctance to cut wages

Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdullah Jihad said today he would avoid cutting the salaries of civil servants in order to tackle the budget deficit which has spiralled to 27 percent of GDP.

He told Minivan News that he would seek to make savings in other areas of expenditure first.

“Civil servants are the lowest down of all government employees. We will try to cut all non-wage expenditure by 15 percent. Salaries will be considered after this,” said Jihad.

The minister’s comments today came after local newspaper Haveeru reported him as having said on Friday that the government was to review the pay of all state employees.

Jihad was reported as having said that the government may have to consider cuts of between 10 and 15 percent in order to save up to Rf2.5billion (US$162 million) from the state budget.

The Finance Ministry’s most recent weekly figures revealed the state’s expenditure to have been 140 percent of its income this year, resulting in a Rf1.5billion (US$97 million) overspend which has been predicted to reach over Rf9 billion (US$584 million) by the year’s end.

However, speaking with Minivan News today, Jihad said that the view expressed in the article was “just an opinion” although he did confirm that a pay board, mentioned in Haveeru, was being formed in order to “harmonise” the pay of all government employees.

The minister said that the review of public salaries will be conducted by a pay review board which will include independent commissions in order to reach an agreement on the necessary reductions.

Sun Online has quoted a senior official at the Finance Ministry as saying that the cabinet had already decided to make cuts of 15 percent to all executive branch agencies although Jihad stressed to Minivan News that no decisions had been made regarding any wage cuts.

“The Cabinet has not yet decided on any cuts,” said Jihad, “we cannot just impose these cuts, we have to agree.”

Parliament’s Financial Committee revealed earlier this month that expected revenue for 2012 had plunged 23 percent , whilst spending was set to increase by almost 24 percent.

Between 2004 and 2009, the country’s fiscal deficit increased exponentially on the back of a 400 percent increase in the government’s wage bill. The year’s 2007 to 2009 included the most significant largesse as the World Bank found wage expenditure to have increased from Rf2billion to almost Rf5billion even as revenues began to recede.

According to statistics from the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the number of permanent civil servants has more than halved between 2006 and June 2011. There has been some contention in the past, however, that the transfer of many civil servants to state owned companies under the previous government masked the true figures.

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) published figures for May estimated that the government will spend Rf2.6billion (US$168million) on salaries and wages in 2012.

This represents only 12 percent of the  GDP figures for 2012, predicted in November last year. The figures announced by the finance ministry earlier this month, however, suggest that salaries and wages will now make up 31 percent of the government’s income.

The Governor of the MMA Dr Fazeel Najeeb was reported as saying that the country was experiencing the worst financial crisis in recent history during a finance forum held last week on Bandos Island resort.

“Expenditure in the country has exceeded income, and as a result the budget deficit is increasing. From November 2010 inflation has also been going up,” he said.

The country last year spent 63.1 percent of its GDP on state expenses, Dr Najeeb claimed, adding that only four countries had worse percentages, including Cuba and Zimbabwe.

The Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) figures for May estimated that the government will spend Rf2.6billion on salaries and wages in 2012.

The previous administration of President Mohamed Nasheed saw the government’s balance of payments fall from 21 percent of GDP in 2009 to an estimated 10.2 percent last year, according to the statistics provided by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.

Jihad contended in  Haveeru that it was the expenses of the former administration that had left the current government in financial dire straits.


Ports staff allege suspension for political activities

Seven staff at the Maldives Ports Ltd (MPL) were suspended from their jobs at the state company for participating in protests held by ousted Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP), a source in the company has confirmed.

Six of the staff have returned to work, while 40 year-old laborer Nizam Abdulla remains suspended.

MPL officials told Nizam they had pictures of him protesting and causing damage to state property outside President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s residence of Hilaaleege, and told him he was suspended for violating the company’s code of conduct. He was then asked to write a letter of apology to the company’s new assistant CEO, Ahmed Faiz.

Nizam described himself as a prominent MDP activist, but denied being present during MDP protests at Hilaaleege. Further, he said he had attended MDP’s protests while on annual leave.

The MDP alleges President Waheed came to power through a coup d’état on February 7 and are holding daily protests calling for fresh elections.

“I was on holiday. I was not in uniform, I was not on duty. I have the right to go wherever I want and I have the right to express myself. They are doing this to me because I support the MDP,” he said.

The father of four children said he is yet to receive any official communication regarding his suspension, and does not know how long the suspension is to last.

MPL Media Coordinator Ibrahim Rilwan confirmed Nizam’s suspension, but said he did not know the specifics regarding the case. The code of conduct does not prohibit participation in political activities, but staff can be disciplined if they transgress good behavioral norms, he added.

The Maldives Ports Ltd manages Malé city’s sea port and is a state owned company. The Supreme Court in August 2011 struck down a clause in the Civil Service Act banning civil servants from participating in political activities, stating the clause infringed upon citizen’s right to participate in political activities as enshrined in the constitution.

“What right does MPL have?”

When Nizam returned to work on April 23, after a month on annual leave, two guards escorted him off the ship he was working on.

“They told me I was not allowed on the office premises any longer. There was a picture of me in the guard house. The next day, my cards were deactivated and I can’t enter the office now,” Nizam told Minivan News.

He is unable to file a complaint with the Labor Tribunal which oversees Employment Act violations because he does not have any official communication regarding his suspension yet.

Nizam said he had been told over the phone not to return to work while he was on annual leave. “There was no warning. I do not see a phone call as a warning,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “This doesn’t just affect me, it affects my wife and four children. What right does MPL have to do this to me?”

Nizam has been working at MPL for six years now.

MPL’s spokesperson Rilwan said the company has asked staff not to participate in political activities while in uniform and on duty. However, the code of conduct does not forbid participation in politics, and no staff have been disciplined for political activities yet, Rilwan claimed.

“The code of conduct says disciplinary measures can be taken against staff if a member of the staff violate norms of good behavior within and outside the office, but I do not know if this is the case with Nizam,” Rilwan said.

“We are not MPL slaves”

An MPL staff member who wished to remain anonymous said a further six staff at MPL were also suspended for two days in March following MDP’s March 19 protests which sought to obstruct President Waheed from addressing parliament’s opening session.

“MPL senior officials want to make sure their staff do not attend protests. Nizam’s suspension is intended as a warning to everyone else,” he told Minivan News.

“We are not MPL’s slaves. The constitution guarantees us freedom of expression. We have the right to go wherever we want and express ourselves when we are not in uniform on duty,” he added.

Another staff, who also wished to remain anonymous, said he too had been warned by his directors not to attend MDP protests. Furthermore, he said he has not yet seen the company’s code of conduct.

“They do not share the code of conduct when they recruit you. I have not seen this, I don’t think anyone has. I don’t even know what it says,” he said.

“A lot of MPL staff are MDP supporters. So the senior staff send people to MDP protests to monitor and take pictures of who attends. The whole point of this is intimidation,” he said.


Cabinet discuss cutting government working hours

The Maldives’ new cabinet has discussed restoring government office working hours back to what they were under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

During Gayoom’s time, government offices were open between 7:30am to 2:30pm. Nasheeds’ administration amended the hours to 8:00am until 4:00pm.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, during a news conference held last night to brief the press on the current economic situation of the country, said that cabinet had discussed the matter and had come to a decision to talk to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on the matter.

President of CSC, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan has stated in the local media that the commission is in full support of the change of the working hours and that the commission had proposed the change of the working hours even during Nasheed’s administration.

A formal announcement of the change of the government working hours is yet to be made.


Supreme Court upholds High Court’s ruling to allow civil servants to take part in political activities.

The Supreme Court has today ruled that article 53 of the Civil Service Act is inconsistent with article 30[a] of the constitution, and has supported the High Court ruling invalidating the article 53 of the Civil Service Act.

The case was appealed by the Attorney General at the Supreme Court, after the High Court determined that the article 53 of the Civil Service Act was inconsistent with article 30[a] of the constitution.

Article 53 of the Civil Service Act states that Civil Servants cannot participate in any political activities while article 30[a] of the constitution states that it is a right of every citizen to take part in political activities.

The Supreme Court’s verdict read that section 77[a] to [d] of the Civil Service Act that defines political activities, which has mentioned every single activity that would come to a person’s mind when they think of political activities, and that article 77[a] to [d] was defined as definitely inconsistent with the constitution’s article 30[a].

Local media reported that the case was lodged with  the High Court by a former civil servant who worked at the Youth Ministry named Mohamed Haanim, who was dismissed from his position after he took part in an opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) rally.

The case was logged to the Supreme Court on March 2009 and the case reached to a conclusion yesterday.