The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) is considering paying a sum of MVR3,000 (US$194) as a bonus for all state employees for the Islamic month of Ramadan.
The Employment Act entitles all Muslim workers in the Maldives to a sum no less than one-third of their monthly salary for the month of fasting, with a minimum of MVR2,000 (US$129) and a maximum of MVR10,000 (US$645).
The government wants to equalise Ramadan bonuses for all state employees, but the plan requires an amendment to the employment law as well as an extra funding of MVR36 million (US$2.3million).
Speaking to the press on Saturday, PPM parliamentary group leader MP Ahmed Nihan said the current budget for Ramadan allowance stands at MVR92 million (US$5.9million)
“When we look at equalising the amount given as Ramadan allowance, we want to give at least, MVR100 per day for each employee, which amounts to a total of MVR3,000. To enforce this, we need an extra MVR36 million,” he said.
Statistics published by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) shows almost half of the country’s civil servants are paid less than MVR 4999 (US$ 324).
The parliament is on recess now and changes to the law can only be made when sittings resume in early June. The first day of Ramadan falls on June 18.
Nihan also said private businesses will be affected if the law is changed at the last minute. PPM MPs are “searching for a quick solution,” he said.
Finance minister Abdulla Jihad told Haveeru today that the government has the funds to pay the proposed amount.
The government last week obtained a grant of US$20million from Saudi Arabia to manage cash flow.
Of the 24,742 civil servants in the Maldives, 9,914 are paid up to MVR4,999, while the large majority (14,380) are paid between MVR5,000 and MVR9,999 (US$ 648).
Only 373 civil servants are paid between MVR10,000 and MVR14,999 while only 75 are paid above MVR 15,000 (972).