Amendment overturns mandatory enrolment of foreigners in pension scheme passed

The People’s Majlis has passed a bill to overturn the mandatory enrolment of expatriate workers in the pension scheme.

This amendment to the Pension Act was passed with 37 votes in favour, 7 votes against, and 7 abstentions, according to local media Sun Online.

The proposed amendment – submitted last month by Maavah MP Abdul Aziz Jamaal Abubakr – was welcomed by many expatriates who fear they will struggle to reclaim their contributions upon leaving the Maldives.

Article 12 of the Maldives Pension Act requires employers to enrol all employees, Maldivians and expatriates alike, in the retirement pension scheme. This requires employers to pay 7 percent of their salaries to the government pension fund.

The amendment bill argues that the majority of expatriate workers will move overseas to retire, defeating the purpose of the scheme. It will be enforced from the day it is ratified by the president and published in the government gazette, reported Sun.


High Commission in Dhaka closes due to “unprecedented fiscal problems”

The Maldives High Commission in Bangladesh has closed its operations, with acting high commissioner Ahmed Adil reportedly citing “unprecedented fiscal problems”.

“Even the foreign ministry’s budget has been slashed by 40 percent,” he told the Bangladeshi media. “It’s a very big cut.”

Adil stated that despite the closure, the excellent bilateral relations Maldives and Bangladesh would continue, and that an alternative arrangement would be sought to bridge the absence of a mission in Dhaka.

An unnamed source from the commission also told the Dhaka Tribune that severe budgetary constraints had prompted the shutdown, suggesting that diplomatic services would continue to be provided from New Delhi.

In a comment piece produced earlier this week, former Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the Maldives Professor Selina Mohsin described the decision as a “wrong move”.

“Diplomatic continuity is a necessity and reciprocity is essential to foster good relations with a friendly Saarc state. But countries are not always ruled by rational consideration of advantages, but often by unthinking foolhardiness.

High Commissioner between 2008 and 2010, Mohsin argued that the Dhaka mission played an important role in strengthening the bond between the island nation and Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh has over 70,000 migrant workers in the Maldives – more than from India or Sri Lanka. They face dubious recruitment procedures, their passports are seized by unscrupulous brokers on arrival, and often wages are withheld,” she argued.

Minivan News was awaiting a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which failed to be published at the time of press.

A World Bank report produced late last year suggested that excessive state expenditure risked derailing the economy. Over seventy percent of the current budget is allocated for recurrent expenditure.

Similarly, the departing MMA governor urged the government to reduce expenditure. After proposing a record MVR17.95 billion budget in December last year – later passed – the MMA’s published response called for cuts that included a reduction in state apparatus to reflect the country’s size and income.

The Bangladeshi High Commission, opened in 2008, was one of the Maldives’ 13 overseas diplomatic missions. The country currently has embassies in China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, with high commissions in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

The country also has permanent missions representing the country in Brussels, Geneva, and New York.

Estimates of migrant workers currently in the Maldives range from 70,000 to as high as 110,000 with undocumented workers estimated to be as high as 44,000.

Employment trafficking scams and fraudulent recruitment it is nearly impossible to reach a conclusive number.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration recently revealed that, in an effort to curb the numbers of illegal workers, it is strengthening action taken against those who employ or provide housing for undocumented migrant individuals.

It was also revealed that a voluntary repatriation scheme for undocumented workers had seen 4,400 workers out of 5,134 that registered for the programme leaving the Maldives since December.


BML urges customers to keep PINs secret

The Bank of Maldives (BML) has urged its customers to keep their personal identification numbers to themselves after thieves withdrew large sums from multiple ATMs in the capital Male’.

”It is very common in the Maldives to share the pin number of their cards, for example when paying a bill at a restaurant the customer might handover the card and pin number,” a BML spokesman told Minivan News.

‘We appeal all of our customers to stop sharing their pin number with anyone.”

Police have started searching for a group of expats who are alleged to have taken money from many different BML accounts without the knowledge of the owners.

The police uploaded video footage of the two expats while they were in the act of withdrawing money from one of the BML ATM machines.

Police said that they used different machines at different locations in Male’ to withdraw, stealing large amounts of money on 17 and 18 October.

Police appealed the public to share any information regarding the two expats and asked anyone with information to contact the police hotline (3322111) or the police economic crime department (9790048). If on an island, police asked individuals to inform the island council or island police station.

Protection was assured to anyone able to provide information on the case.

A spokesman from BML today told Minivan News that these type of cases occur most of the time because customers share their pin number with people.

He noted that a lot of times women will share their PIN number with close friends and have them withdraw money or use the card, and that most of the time customers have neither mobile alerts nor use internet banking to track their transactions.

The spokesperson stated that the details of the case could not be revealed while police are investigating the case, but did note that the bank would reimburse account holders if it was found to be at fault for any lost money.


Two expats stabbed in Male’

Police have said that two expats were stabbed in Male’ last night in two different incidents.

The first incident occurred at about 7:50pm near Galolhu Madharusa – a 16 year-old minor was arrested in connection with the case.

Police said that a passing by police officer stopped the 16 year-old and arrested him while he was fleeing the area after attacking the expat.

The nationality of the victim was not revealed in the case.

The second incident occurred at about 10:15pm near the Ekuveni track area. Police said a 36 year-old Bangladeshi man was victimized in the attack. No arrests were made in connection with this incident.


Two expats arrested with 31 packets of illegal drugs

Police have arrested two expatriates who were in possession of 31 packets of illegal narcotics.

They said the two arrested were one Indian national and one Bangladesh national aged 24 and 27, respectively.

When police searched their bodies’ officers discovered stolen motorbike keys, money, two screw drivers, and medicine.

The Drug Enforcement Department is further investigating the case.


Six expats arrested over alleged fight with Maldivian colleagues in Noonu Atoll

Police have arrested six expats working on Fushivelaavaru in Noonu Atoll, after they allegedly assaulted two Maldivian staff members on the island.

According to a police statement, the incident occurred last night with the six expats workers being arrested at 5:30am this morning.

The expats arrested were all Bangladeshi nationals aged between 25 to 31, police stated. Police have not revealed the names of the persons arrested or the details surrounding the incident.

However, police stated that a 19 year-old and 25 year-old Maldivian were injured in the fight.

The two Maldivians were hospitalised at Manadhoo Hospital based in Noonu Atoll.

A police team is on the island investigating the case.

According to local media, Fushivelaavaru is an uninhabited island being developed into a resort.

An online newspaper based in Noonu Atoll, ‘Manadhoo Live’, reported that according to people working on the island, the incident occurred at about 8:15pm after a Maldivian staff member accidentally ran into a Bangladeshi man while he was walking out of the mess room.

The paper reported that the Bangladeshi workers on the island confronted the Maldivians following the incident and four Bangladeshi men allegedly attacked the two Maldivians using an iron bar.

Last Wednesday (May 15), an Indian physics teacher was hospitalised after a group of angry islanders allegedly confronted him on the island of Kumundhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll.

The teacher was then reported to have been beaten over accusations he hit a student in the chest.

Police have arrested eight persons from the island in connection with the case.


Police nab expats brewing alcohol in Thilafushi

Police arrested three expatriates caught brewing alcohol in Thilafushi yesterday.

According to police media, the suspects taken into custody around 7:50pm were two Indian men aged 46 and 27 and a Bangladeshi man aged 24.

In a joint operation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Department (DED) and Marine Police, police confiscated three five-litre bottles and three 500ml bottles of alcohol as well as eight containers with 20 litres of fermented alcohol and equipment used to brew alcohol.

Police said the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) provided assistance for the operation.


Four expats arrested for missionary activity

Four expatriates were arrested yesterday for suspected missionary activity, police have confirmed.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the four men were arrested yesterday afternoon, but he could not give further details as the case is still under investigation.

A teacher at Maafannu Madharusa, Aishat Rameeza, told Minivan News that four men entered the school office at around 10:00am and gave a book to a teacher and a parent, while she was present.

Rameeza said that they asked if the teachers knew a place called “Higher Education.”

”We said there are many higher educations,” Rameeza said. ”We thought they were asking about the faculty in old Jamaluddeen School, so we told them how to go there.”

She said the men then asked them where the local market was.

”When they were about to leave they gave a book to a teacher and a parent who was here, called ‘A story of redemption and steps to Christianity’, and said ‘here is a nice gift for you.'”

”We immediately informed the police but they did not seem to care,” Rameeza said. “We still have the book.”

Deputy Principal of Maafannu Madharusa Ahmed Farooq confirmed that four men came to the school yesterday and gave a book “of about 470 pages” to a pre-school teacher.

He said the school immediately informed the police.

”I heard they were arrested yesterday,” Farooq said. “They looked like they were Japanese or Chinese.”