Economic Ministry stops issuing work permits to foreign photographers

The Ministry of Economic Development has decided to stop giving out work permits to foreign photographers starting from yesterday (January 26).

“We want to provide the opportunity to Maldivian youth and to ensure that photography stands up on its own as an established industry,” Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed has told Haveeru.

“This will encourage small and medium sized businesses to develop,” he explained, adding that only Maldivians will be allowed to provide photography services in resorts.

The current government has pledged to create more jobs for local youth by replacing expatriate workers with Maldivians.

Maldives Photographer’s Association (MPA) President Mohamed Shafy told Minivan News that the government’s decision is a “huge accomplishment” for the organisation, which has been working relentlessly to provide more opportunity for local photographers.

Shafy said that foreign nationals were taking up opportunities which would otherwise be given to local photographers – especially at resorts – by demanding a smaller price than their local counterparts.

He explained that the association had discovered, via the recently passed Right to Information Act, that 14 foreign nationals were working in the photography industry in the Malé area, despite just 3 having been licensed throughout the country.

“We do not mind the photographers who come for a certain project or with famous celebrities,” said Shafy. “However, some of these resorts have foreign resident photographers for weddings and occasions while it could be Maldivians doing the job.”

Shafy said that the association has held talks with various government officials regarding the matter.

“We have had talks with tourism minister Adeeb, [former] defense minister Nazim and we were told they will try to change things around. So we did not think that the minister Saeed would take such a drastic measure.”

Another local photographer described the move as a “very good decision” which would provide a lot of opportunities to work at resorts.

While there are 1500 professional photographers registered with MPA, Shafy estimates that there are over 3000 photographers working professionally in the country.

“It used to be that tourists would come to the Maldives just for the underwater scenery and pictures. But now we see more honeymooners who want their pictures taken,” said Shafy, describing the potential of the industry.

He expressed his belief that the decision would prompt a lot of photographers who had given up on the profession to return to the industry.

The theme of ‘Maldivian work for Maldivians’ forms a major part of the government’s current policy for strengthening the economy and reducing youth unemployment.

Youth minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal has told Minivan News recently that there are over 13,000 individuals in the youth unemployment registrar. Shortly after the current government took office in late 2013, the youth ministry said it would attempt to resolve unemployment by replacing expatriate workers with locals.

After pledging to create 94,000 jobs during its five year term, the government recently announced that it would be illegal to hire expatriate workers as cashiers starting from April this year.

Speaking at the time, Saeed said: “A large percentage of the Maldivian youth is unemployed and looking for unemployment. All they need is support and guidance.”

In December last year, former Managing Director at Maldives Airports Company Ltd Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem told a Majlis committee that difficulties with local staff had resulted in a dependence on foreign employees, and even military assistance, to keep the international airport running.

Saleem – who had been called before the Majlis to explain the high number of foreign workers at Malé international airport – was removed from his post for unspecified reasons last week.

Related to this story

Foreigners barred from cashier jobs as President promises work for Maldivians

MACL chief says airport dependent on foreign workers


Deadline extended for companies to submit annual reports

Financial authorities have extended the deadline for private and public companies to submit their latest annual reports and audit figures until November 22, local media has reported.

With the previous deadline set by the Economic Ministry set to expire tomorrow, authorities have reportedly decided to offer companies an extension for submitting their reports to take into account the recent Eid al-Adha holiday period, according to Haveeru.

Failure to meet these revised deadlines will result in fines of MVR10,000 and MVR 30,000 being imposed on the managing directors of private and public companies respectively.


Economic Ministry fines five shops for consumer protection violations

The Economic Ministry has fined five shops citing violations of Consumer Protection Regulations, reports Haveeru.

The Ministry inspected 26 shops but did not reveal the names of any found. Those found violating regulations were fined Rf 500 for every product sold in violation of regulations, which can include a lack of usage instructions or expiry dates on packaged products, or price tags.

Shops inspected included supermarkets, the Ministry said in a statement. Future inspections will be conducted by Male’ City Council.


Court upholds Economic Ministry’s decision to disallow ‘G-Spot’ shop

The Civil Court has ruled the Economic Ministry had no grounds to authorise the name ‘G-Spot’ to be used as the name for a shop, after its owner Mohamed Nizam sued the ministry for refusing him permission to trade under the name.

Civil Court Judge Maryam Nihayath delivered the verdict on Sunday, stating that the word ‘G-spot’ referred to a part of the female sexual organs and was an inappropriate word to be used as a name for a shop. She also said that unless otherwise defined, most people would understand the word G-Spot as relating to female genitalia.

In the court hearings, State Attorney Aishath Seeza had argued defended the Ministry’s decision in disallowing the name ‘G-Spot’, claiming that it was an inappropriate shop name to be seen by women and children.

Nazim contested that ‘G’ stood for ‘Girls’ and that his shop was a ‘Girls-Spot’ as it sold female garments. He argued that Nazim contested that the ‘G-Spot’ as Seeza understood it did not exist, submitting articles published in The Times, BBC and CNN to support his argument.

He also said that he had spent a lot of money making the name board of the shop, printing paper bags and tags, all of which were done in the name of ‘G-Spot’.


Government departments strike over salaries

Staff at several government departments, including the fisheries ministry and the attorney general’s office, have gone on strike in protest at the restoration of salaries for only some areas of government.

Staff a some of the other ministries, including the tourism ministry, are rumoured to be deciding whether they should take part.

Yesterday salaries were restored for staff at the independent commissions, courts, parliament and the judicial services. The president announced over the weekend that the remaining civil servant salaries will be restored in April if the country’s economy has stabilised.

A senior staff member from the attorney general’s office told Minivan News that more than 40 people working at the office were participating the strike, and would continue to do so until their received the restored salaries.

“We will come to the office every day, but we won’t be doing any work,” he said, claiming that the strikers were just trying to get their legal rights.

A senior staff member from the fisheries ministry confirmed that most of the civil servants at the ministry were on strike, including the management.

Some of the ministry’s senior staff had threatened legal action against the strikers, he said.

”We are working legally to get our rights,” he claimed, explaining that civil servants were present at the office but were refusing to work.

A civil servant working in the tourism ministry said staff were planning to sent a letter to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) about the issue.

”We will decide to strike or not depending on the answer we get,” she said.

The economic ministry said that all of its staffs were present and all of them were working “as normal.” A staff member said that they were not planning to strike.

Spokesman for the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ibrahim Shareef said that no legal action could be taken against the civil servants protesting.

”It is a right for the civl servants according to the law,” Shareef said, but added that the DRP had not yet decided whether to support the strike.

CSC spokesman Mohamed Fahmy Hassan said the CSC had yet to discuss the issue in detail but was currently “definitely not calling for strikes”, and was instead trying to solve the dispute through administrative and legal means.

“We have stated very openly that if we cannot solve it administratively, we will take the issue to court until we get a verdict,” he said.

Strikes would disrupt the services provided by the ministries and inconvenience the public, he added.

“I think the fact that some salaries have been restored has made it harder to persuade civil servants that the country has a financial problem. It’s very unfair what’s happened.”

State Minister for Finance Ahmed Assad said that civil servants were entitled to strike for their rights.

”We have not decided to change any of our decisions yet,” Assad said, refusing to answer more questions “as it is too early to say anything.”