Government decides to take back “some” services from Male’ City Council

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan yesterday announced the government would be taking over “some responsibilities” assigned to the elected Male’ City Council (MCC).

A press statement released by the President’s Office said the decision had been taken on the advice of cabinet to take back some services that are currently provided by the MCC.   These services are now expected to be given to the relevant government ministries.

The statement read: “Despite the legal system of the country [dictating] that several services given from the government to the public are delegated to local councils under the Decentralization Act, the decision of the President with the consultation of the cabinet, comes at a time where several of these local councils are failing to provide these services”

However, the statement did not reveal what services the government decided to take over.

The statement also said it was a constitutional duty of the president under the article 115 of the constitution to ensure that services given by the government are administered properly.

It added that the president wished to ensure such services were given properly, even if it meant taking back those responsibilities from the local councils.

The statement also said that the second reason for the decision was to ensure that the services were provided efficiently and easily as Ramazan was approaching.

“The members of the cabinet in the cabinet meeting highlighted the importance of providing services to the public efficiently and smoothly regardless of any political ideologies,” read the statement.

“Not undermining Decentralization Act”– President’s Office spokesperson

Speaking to Minivan News, MCC member Ahmed Falah said that it had not been informed by the government of a the decision to take back certain responsibilities.

“I am surprised that we haven’t been informed of the decision. Even I came to know about this from the local media” the councilor added.

He also expressed dissatisfaction at the decision, claiming the government intended to undermine the powers given to local councils under the Decentralization Act.

Speaking to Minivan News, Presidents Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza denied Falah’s claims, citing that the council has become “too politicised”

“We are not trying to undermine the Decentralization Act, but how can we delegate responsibilities to a council that does not recognize a legitimate government?  They don’t recognize the government, they don’t recognize the people or the law and they only recognize their salary,” he said.  “They are failing to provide government services that they are supposed to provide for the people.”

Riza further claimed that the government would not stand by when such services were not being provided, and would take action accordingly.

He added that the decision comes at a time when the holy month of Ramazan was nearing and the government intended to “ease up and smooth” the services it provided.

When asked if the government intended to re-delegate the services back to MCC at a later date, Riza said that they would only do so when it deemed the council ‘fit’ to provide services impartially and properly.

“We would hand back the powers back to the council only when we see that they are capable of giving such services impartially and in adherence to the laws of the country,” Riza added.

The MCC, which has a majority representation of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members, and the new government of President Waheed have been at loggerheads after the controversial transfer of power that took place on February 7.

On February 12, MCC passed a resolution stating that the council did not recognise the government of President Waheed and demanded he step down and hold elections in two months.