Government to reclaim property awarded to ferry service providers

The government is seeking to reclaim properties provided to companies awarded contracts by the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed in order to establish regional transport networks, President Abdulla Yameen said last night.

Speaking at campaign launching ceremonies for two Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) parliamentary candidates, President Yameen contended that the transport networks had “failed” across the country.

“The network is at a halt in all areas. It is functioning in just two areas. In one of those areas it is a private sector party providing the service. The system has been very much weakened,” he said.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government awarded 200 plots of lands under its transport network agreements to the companies contracted to provide ferry services, Yameen noted, claiming that the bidding process was riddled with corruption.

“For islands given to develop resort, on average we are talking about an annual income of US$30 million. If we consider the total income of a resort we are talking about US$30 million dollars. Out of these 200 plots, a lot were given for resort development. All of them have now been sold,” he said.

While the public-private partnership project “in itself was good,” Yameen contended that it was the most wasteful and corrupt programme carried out by the MDP government.

The programme was intended to unduly benefit certain parties by awarding public property and funds, Yameen added, describing it as the worst such “in Maldivian history”.

“So the work we have to do is taking back such properties that can be beneficial to the public [and undo] the action of a group who claimed that there was corruption in the past and that they would stop it,” he said.

Of the two functioning transport networks at present, Yameen noted that ferry service was currently provided by the government-owned Koodoo Fisheries Company in Gaaf Alif and Gaaf Dhaalu atolls.

In October 2012, the MDP-controlled Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Council accused the previous company of ceasing ferry services and asked the transport ministry to cancel the agreement.

Yameen meanwhile vowed that there would not be a corruption case under his administration that would reach the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“During our five years, God willing you won’t hear of anything that could reach the ACC,” he said, adding that the commission was investigating allegations of corruption “from all sectors” during the MDP’s three years in government.

The government was also seeking to reclaim large plots of land in the capital awarded by the previous government to the MDP-controlled Malé City Council, Yameen said.

However, he added that reclaiming some properties might be difficult even through litigation as estate transactions were advanced in some cases.

PPM campaign

Speaking at the campaign launching event for the PPM’s candidate for the Hulhuhenveiru constituency, Hassan Ziyath, Yameen said he was pleased that “capable and educated youth” were contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections on behalf of the governing Progressive Coalition.

The cabinet was also composed of competent young technocrats, he added, who were working “day and night” with a team committed to implementing the PPM manifesto.

In the campaign launching event for the PPM’s mid-Henveiru constituency candidate, former journalist and television presenter Aishath Leeza, Yameen criticised parliament for failing to approve his nominee for the vacant Prosecutor General post as well as his nominee for the Elections Commission (EC).

The resignation of former EC member Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed in October 2013 left a vacancy in the five-member independent commission.

Yameen also criticised parliament for failing to pass legislation such as the penal code, the evidence bill, and the criminal procedures code, which were essential for strengthening the criminal justice system.

The president vowed to establish “a safe and peaceful environment” for citizens in all inhabited islands of the country.

While the government was taking measures to “deter crime,” Yameen said the issue was related to “education of youth.”

He noted that the current administration has introduced Arabic and Quran classes in most schools in the country.

Plans were in the pipeline to introduce civic education and social science subjects in secondary education later this year, he revealed.

“The purpose of including these [subjects] is to provide information to children on how to confront or reconcile upsetting matters that you face within a family or society,” Yameen said, stressing the importance of policies propagated by the state to “maintain Islamic principles.”