More than half of civil servants eligible for annual bonus

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has said that annual bonuses worth MVR40 million (US$2.5 million) will be distributed to more than 13,000 civil servants with the monthly pay for July and August.

CSC senior human resource officer Mohamed Riza told the press today that the annual bonus will be handed out based on evaluation of civil servants’ work between February 2014 and January 2015.

Civil servants who earned 95 percent and above in the appraisal will receive a bonus equivalent to a month’s pay. Those who earned between 85 and 95 percent will receive two thirds of their basic salary, while those between 84.9 and 75 percent will receive one-third of their basic monthly salary.

Some 13,905 employees or 55 percent of the country’s 25,076 civil servants will receive the bonus.


New city council office infested with rats and fungus

New office space offered to Malé city council office by the government is infested with rats and fungus, says deputy mayor Shifa Mohamed.

The housing minister ordered the opposition-dominated council last week to vacate the city hall building at Galolhu Billoorijehige and move to smaller offices at the Huravee building within seven days.

Shifa told Minivan News today that the council has shared numerous concerns regarding safety and hygiene with the civil service commission.

“There is fungus on the walls of the building. The building has a pungent smell and there are rats and rat holes everywhere,” she said.

Nearly 60 civil service staff at the council have filed a petition at commission, saying the building is unfit for office work.

The city hall takeover was the latest incident in a long-running power struggle between the ministry and the council. Earlier this year, the ministry transferred a third of the council’s employees to the ministry.

Shifa said the council has asked the ministry for an extension of the seven-day deadline for the move, but is yet to receive a response.

“The ministry is not responding to any political staff at the city council,” she said.

Services provided to the public could be interrupted if the ministry does not grant an extension, she added.

Local media observed cracks on the walls, several rat holes and waste leaking onto the carpet floor of the new office.

Civil service commission president Dr Mohamed Latheef declined to comment on the state of the building until the council officially requests for assistance.

“We do not want to get involved with the matter,” he said.

However, he assured assistance and an inquiry as soon as the council officially files a complaint.

The letter evicting the council from city hall was signed by acting housing minister Thoriq Ibrahim.

The ministry also ordered the council to hand over the compound building the Billoorijehige building and the local market.

Thoriq said the cabinet had decided on April 19 that the building was better suited for government offices.

The housing ministry did not consult the council on the issue before the decision, and Shifa claimed the lack of communication “was enough proof that the cabinet’s decision was political.”

In November last year, the council was shut down after police confiscated several hard drives and documents saying the council was using the documents to gain “unlawful advantages.”

In October, masked individuals wielding machetes uprooted all of Malé City’s Areca palms. When the council attempted to replant the trees, the cabinet announced the council no longer had power over the city roads.

Shifa has previously suggested that the government was ‘destroying decentralisation’ after the housing ministry seized numerous plots of land from the council including two parks, the artificial beach, the carnival area, the south harbour area, Usfasgandu, Dharubaaruge, and the area near the T-Jetty.


Aminiya principal sacked to ‘avoid further damages’ to school

Aminiya School principal Aishath Athiya Naseer has been fired on orders from the education ministry.

According to local media, the civil service commission told Athiya yesterday that the education ministry believed her continued presence will cause “further damages” to the school.

The education ministry confirmed the sacking, but declined to provide further information.

A senior teacher who wished to remain anonymous told Minivan News today that teachers and students were “shocked and deeply saddened” by Athiya’s dismissal, which most faculty members believe to be politically motivated.

Athiya was appointed principal in 2011 and is the wife of former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ahmed Abdulla.

Most teachers have signed a petition asking the ministry to explain why Athiya has been considered a threat to the school.

The senior teacher said Athiya is very professional, diplomatic, and had always followed the education ministry’s instructions.

The ministry’s actions have left teachers unsure of their job security, the teacher added: “Who knows who will get dismissed tomorrow saying they are a threat?”

Ali Sulaiman, treasurer of the school’s parent teacher association, suggested that Athiya’s sacking followed the PTA raising concerns with the ministry over students at the adjacent Centre for Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) using Aminiya’s science laboratories.

The parents were concerned about older boys from CHSE interacting with younger girls at Aminiya, Sulaiman said.

“We never denied CHSE students of use of our lab. They should also be given the chance to learn. However, our concern was how to manage all of the students as we also have a similar problems with capacity due to the falling of concrete structures in old buildings,” he explained.

The PTA requested a visit from education minister Dr Aishath Shiham to inspect the state of disrepair of the school’s building.

However, the minister did not say whether or not she would visit the school. The following day, the school received a letter from the ministry with instructions to fire Athiya, he continued.

“It is very difficult to understand the reason the ministry is giving. Our concern is to solve the problems in the school. It does not seem to us that sacking Athiya is the solution,”said Sulaiman.

Last month, at least five employees at state-owned companies were fired and several more were suspended after they attended opposition protests, which have now entered its tenth week. The opposition is campaigning for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim from jail.


New civil service act comes into effect

New civil service regulations come into effect today (December 1), replacing the 2010 Civil Regulations Act.

A Civil Service Commission press statement today read that the new regulations were formulated after consulting various stakeholders including the public, civil service staff, and different government authorities.

It also said that the new regulations are aimed at delivering a more efficient service to the public by making civil service employees more responsible, as well as ensuring the rights of the workers.

The CSC is also running programmes and workshops along with government officials to raise awareness amongst civil service staff of the the new regulations.

Recent statistics from the CSC showed that civil servants rose from 24,742 in May to 25,010 in September – representing over seven percent of the population.


Almost half of civil servants earn less than MVR5,000 a month

Almost half of the country’s civil servants earn a monthly salary of less than MVR5,000 (US$324), statistics from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) have revealed.

While the number of government employees who earn up to MVR4,499 a month increased from 9,914 in May to 11,000 in September, the number of employees who earn between MVR5,000 and MVR10,000 (US$ 648) decreased from 14,380 in May to 13,580 in September.

Those earning between MVR10,000 and MVR15,000 (US$972) increased by 30 percent in September while those who earn higher than MVR15,000 rose by 96 percent.

Speaking at a three-day conference organised jointly by the CSC, Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Auditor General’s Office last week, Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim criticised civil servants for providing “poor service” to the public.

Most civil servants have poor attendance records, arrive at work late, do careless work, and take leave or holidays excessively, Nazim said, which were “unacceptable.”

Recent statistics from the CSC showed that civil servants rose from 24,742 in May to 25,010 in September – representing over seven percent of the population.

Female civil servants outnumber males, with 13,280 women and 11,730 men, while 35 percent of government workers are based in the capital Malé.

The highest number of civil servants work under the Ministry of Education (9,955), followed by the Ministry of Health (7,090) and local councils (4,454).

Nazim suggested that the “only solution” to the shortcomings of the civil service was bringing amendments to relevant laws in order to ensure employees could not take leave for four or five months a year.

Aside from pay rises and promotions, Nazim said employees could also be motivated to work better as a team, advising reforms to rules for promotions to provide incentives to civil servants.

Reviewing the organisational structure of offices could also improve efficiency, he added.

“I would like to believe that employees of the civil service can get the public’s love and respect when they work for it,” he said.

Addressing foreign participants of the conference in English, Nazim said the “key role of the civil service is to provide public service in an efficient and empathetic manner.”

With democracy in the Maldives “in its infancy,” Nazim said the country was facing “multi-faceted” and “increasingly complex” challenges and stressed the importance of reforming the civil service.

He urged participants of the conference to consider “the geographical nature of the Maldivian archipelago and the nature of service we have provided while addressing the challenges and reforming the civil service structure.”

According to the CSC, the purpose of the conference was improving the service offered to the public and focused on three main themes.

“They were organisational development and review, human resource management and development, and establishing a civil service with integrity,” the CSC explained in a press statement.

Former chairman of India’s Union Public Service Commission Professor Dev Prakash also took part in the conference, delivering  the keynote speech.


Former political appointees and staff of abolished Transport Ministry to be transferred

Political appointees from the defunct Transport Ministry have been moved to other departments.

Civil Service Commission Secretary General Mohamed Faizal has confirmed that none of the civil servants who worked there would lose their jobs.

“We are currently in the process of transferring them to the ministries to which the departments they served under have been delegated. They will be getting their salaries without interruption even while we are working on the transfers,” Faizal explained.

Faizal stated that the staff do not have a say regarding which ministry they are transferred to, and that the commission will instead be transferring them to whichever ministry is currently delegated with running their previous department.

According to him, no changes will be brought to their posts or salaries as a result of the change.

Former Ministers of State for Transport and Communication Abdul Latheef Mohamed and Mohamed Anees have been appointed to the same posts at the Ministry of Economic Development, the President’s Office has revealed.

Their colleague, Minister of State Mohamed Ibrahim, has also been transferred to the same post at the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

Meanwhile, the removal of Deputy Transport Minister Ikram Hassan and Executive Coordinator Mohamed Azeem have been announced today. Three other deputy ministers were also removed from their posts with the abolition of the ministry on June 19.

Work conducted at the ministry has since been delegated to other ministries and institutions.

The Regional Airports Department has been transferred to the Ministry of Tourism, while the Transport Authority has been transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development.

The Communications Authority of Maldives was transferred under the Ministry of Home Affairs, although a number of other functions formerly fulfilled by the Transport Ministry have been delegated to the Environment, Home, Economic Development and Finance ministries.

Following the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives severing its coalition agreement with the Jumhooree Party(JP) in May, President Abdulla Yameen dismissed Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim – who was filling a JP cabinet slot – from the post.


ACC orders CSC to exclude Transport Authority director from reviewing bids

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has ordered the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to exclude Transport Authority Director General Sami Ageel from reviewing bids related to any offices under the jurisdiction of the civil service.

Local media reports that the ACC sent this order on May 7, following which the commission has notified the Transport Ministry. Sami has been alleged to be involved in a number of corruption cases.

While refraining to provide additional information, ACC President Hassan Luthfy told local media that the order was sent in relation to a case currently under investigation.


Government to address pay discrepancies as civil servants plan strike action

The Maldives Civil Servants’ Association (MCSA) has discussed a potential strike on April 20 should the government fail to address its concerns – mainly concerning pay discrepancies.

“First we want to find a solution through dialogue with the government. After that, if we have to, we will go on strike. And we are confident if we go on strike ninety percent of civil servants will support it,” MCSA President Mohamed Shaugee said.

Stating that the past three governments and parliament should take responsibility for the delay in setting a minimum wage, Shaugee said “the state as a whole has failed”.

President Abdulla Yameen is concerned about the issue of pay discrepancies and will find a solution through discussions with relevant parties, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has said today.

“This is not a president who makes decisions based on his personal views alone. There will be discussions. The views and sentiments of the civil servants, doctors, and everyone will be considered in reaching a decision in this matter,” said Muaz.

Civil Servants’ Strike

“Even the Civil Service Commission has failed to protect the rights of civil servants and ensure there is no discrimination [with regards to pay],” said the MCSA’s Shaugee.

“We have discussed this with them, and they said they are working on resolving it. But it is hard to believe as we have been talking about this for the past six years.”

Responding to the civil servants’ plans to go on strike, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a press release today reminding workers of the mandatory steps to be taken prior to a strike, which include filing a complaint with the Labor Relations Authority and giving written notice to the employer three days prior to any strike.

Employees who contravene this regulation can be fined between MVR10,000 – 50,000.

The Teachers Association Maldives (TAM) which led the teachers’ black protest earlier this week  has also threatened to go on strike as a last resort in their fight to resolve pay discrepancies.

President of the association Athif Abdul Hakeem said that, while no official discussions have taken place with the government since the protest, the teachers’ steering committee and focal points will meet this Friday to decide their course of action.

“We have been talking about [minimum wage] since the association was formed in 2008. We have been focusing on two major issues, one is resolving pay discrepancies. Equal pay. Second issue is improving the education sector in general, including resources, training and standards of teachers,” said President of TAM Athif Abdul Hakeem.

Athif noted that with parliament majority, the government can easily change things if there is a political will.

“If [President Yameen] wants to do those things for us, the means are there now. I believe it can be done and it should be done.

The demand for a minimum wage has been raised by Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) as well.

Minimum wage

The Employment Act of 2008 mandated the establishment of  a salary advisory board shall be established to advise the government on the appropriate minimum wage, though no government has yet fulfilled this requirement.

The pay advisory board had been established in September 2008 by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and again in January 2009 by President Mohamed Nasheed, with no minimum wage resulting.

In May 2011, Nasheed announced his intention to set a minimum wage within a year, reconvening the pay advisory board.

Shortly after Nasheed’s initial promise, a number of business groups led by representatives of the Maldives Association of Construction Industry and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry met to discuss the issue, determining that a minimum wage was “not important for the Maldives at the moment.”

Speaking at the press conference organised by the business groups, leader of the Jumhooree Party and Chairman of Villa Group Gasim Ibrahim said that setting a minimum wage suddenly without a good policy would destroy industry.

His thoughts were echoed by Ahmed Shiyam, Chairman of Sun Siyam resorts and leader of the Maldives Development Alliance.

Similar comments were made by current Deputy Leader of PPM Ahmed Adeeb, who at the time spoke as the treasurer of Maldives National Chamber Of Commerce and Industry.

Adeeb said that it would create great challenges for businesses if an equal minimum wage is set for both migrant workers and locals.

In December 2012, parliament passed a bill on the state wage policy which promised to resolve public sector pay discrepancies through the creation of a National Pay Commission.

The bill is still in the parliament’s economic committee, however, after being sent back for reconsideration by President Dr Mohamed Waheed, after issues were raised regarding which branch of the state would determine wages.


Former civil service chief has no grounds for appeal, says CSC

The Civil Court has held the first hearing into the compensation case for dismissed President of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mohamed Fahmy Hassan.

In late December, 2012, Fahmy filed charges against the state seeking compensation for losses after the People’s Majlis dismissed him from his position.

Fahmy’s dismissal followed the Majlis’ no-confidence motion in November 2012 after it had conducted an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Speaking at the hearing of the case held today in the Civil Court, CSC legal representative Abdul Naseer Shafeeq stated that, as the law states that the president of the civil service must be appointed by the parliament, the parliament’s decision on the matter is final, local media reported.

Shafeeq added that once the parliament decided on the matter, he believed the secretariat was right in following the parliament’s decision. He further said that he had accepted the secretariat was right in not allowing someone other than the person appointed by parliament to enter the premises of the CSC and take up responsibilities of the Chair.

Fahmy’s access to the commission’s offices was revoked in September last year after he continued to attend work during the impasse between the judiciary and the legislature over his dismissal.

Last March, he Supreme Court -had ruled that parliament’s decision was void on the basis that it had breached the law. Fahmy used this ruling as justification in his case against the state.

He stated that, following the Parliament’s appointment of Dr Mohamed Latheef as the president of the CSC, Fahmy had no grounds to claim the responsibilities of the commission’s president.

Shafeeq further pointed out that Fahmy is currently filling another state position.

Incumbent President Abdulla Yameen appointed Fahmy to the post of Deputy High Commissioner of Maldives in Malaysia in the midst of the CSC scandal – just days after assuming office.

The state had previously raised procedural issues in the case, and arguing that the case cannot be carried forward.

Fahmy is suing the state for damages of over MVR7 million as compensation for financial losses and psychological trauma he has suffered through the CSC’s failure to allow him access to its premises and its severance of his pay after the parliament’ decision.