Cabinet passes regulation limiting ministers’ interactions with parliament

The cabinet has approved a new set of procedures governing its interactions with parliament.

“After discussing the draft Cabinet rules of procedure, the Cabinet passed relevant clauses for communications with the People’s Majlis,’’ said the president’s office in a statement last week.”

Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed said the regulations “are quite important in terms of how the government will interact with parliament from now on. It draws a clear boundary.”

Referencing article 115 (f) of the Constitution, the new regulations state that a cabinet member can only be summoned to the parliament on mention of a the appropriate article in the constitution, and shall answer questions only during a parliament meeting.

Furthermore, cabinet ministers shall only answer to the parliament “if the cabinet minister is given the notice 14 days prior”,  and “shall only answer questions that the minister must according to the law on questioning ministers.”

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader and MP Ali Waheed said the approved procedures were “against the spirit of the constitution” and would be void.

‘’Actually, parliament has yet to approve a cabinet. When a cabinet is established we will summon them to committee meetings as well –  ministers must appear before committees in the interest of the people – the constitution is very clear. Without doubt these new procedures are void – nobody can narrow the summoning of cabinet ministers to parliament.’’

However, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Shifaz said that according to the constitution, the reality for cabinet ministers was very different.

“It does not say that the ministers have to be present at committees hearings – the constitution says that ministers should be answerable to the parliament inside the parliament chamber, not in the committees,’’ said Shifaz.

He said that the opposition still had to approve the cabinet, and that otherwise summoning them for questioning was an act against parliamentary system.

‘’It is not the people who the opposition wish that should be in the president’s cabinet, it should be people appointed by the president,’’ he added.