State companies dismissing May Day protesters from jobs

The state owned utilities company Fenaka Corporation has dismissed two employees without notice for their alleged participation in an antigovernment protest on May Day, amidst growing concern that other state owned companies are considering similar actions against opposition supporting employees.

“The notice for dismissal I received said I had taken part in an act against the state. But my contract does not state I cannot take part in political activities,” Ibrahim Didi, a Fenaka employee told Minivan News today.

A Fenaka supervisor in Addu City, Abdulla Sodig, was accused of traveling to Malé to participate in the May Day protest and was fired.

“I was in Male’ but I did go to the protest. I have requested the company to review the situation and reverse their decision,” he said.

Nearly 200 people were arrested and scores injured when violent clashes broke out in the capital Malé.

Approximately 20,000 people took to the streets on Friday against the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed in the largest antigovernment protest in a decade. Two police officers were also severely beaten.

On Saturday, ruling party MP Ahmed Nihan urged the government to track down civil servants and employees of state owned companies who had participated in the protest and dismiss them immediately.

The Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) had earlier warned employees it would fire anyone seen at the May Day protest, but a senior manager Ahmed Athif said the company has not yet received any reports their employees had taken part in the protest.


Employees of the Maldives Customs Services told Minivan News they are being shuffled between departments due to their political views.

“We haven’t gotten direct threats or anything like that but people are being shuffled around departments because of their political views. These are acts of intimidation,” a senior officer who wanted to remain anonymous said.

He also said employees are asked to attend ruling party events even as they face reprisals for taking part in opposition activities.

“We got an internal memo asking to participate in a PPM event earlier. It said employees are advised to attend the event to show support for the ruling party,” he said.

But the commissioner general of customs Abbas Adil Riza rejected claims of intimidation.

“The customs always has and will always follow the rule of law. We will not intimidate or scare our staff,” he said.

Meanwhile, a former customs employee has said he was fired for taking part in an opposition demonstration on February 27.

“I served for 36 years in the government out of which 34 years I spent in the customs. I took part in the opposition February 27 protest and was asked to either resign or face being fired. I resigned,” he said.

In March, at least four employees of State Electric Company Limited (STELCO) and one from Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MSWC) were dismissed, and at least five were suspended from MPL over the February 27 demonstration.


Imports up by 22 percent in 2014, exports down by 12 percent

Imports rose by 22 percent in 2014, while exports dropped by 12 percent, the Maldives Customs Service has revealed.

According to a statement from customs today, imported goods in 2014 amounted to MVR30.7 billion (US$1.99 billion), resulting in duties of MVR1.96 billion – a 15 percent rise compared to 2013.

The decline in exports saw the total value of goods leaving the Maldives in 2014 valued at MVR2.24 billion, compared with MVR2.56 billion in 2013.

The latest balance of payments figures from the Maldives Monetary Authority show the current account deficit was US$290 million in 2014 – equivalent to 10 percent of GDP, though the central bank estimates that this will drop to 6 percent of GDP in 2015.

Recent amendments to the Import Export Act – part of a raft of revenue raising measures – are expected to raise MVR533 million (US$34.5 million) in additional income in 2015.

Customs revealed today that petroleum products had contributed the most to last year’s imports, totaling MVR8.3 billion – or 27 percent of the total. Food items comprised 19 percent of the year’s imports while 16 percent was machinery and electronic items, totalling to MVR6 billion and MVR4.8 billion respectively.

The customs third quarterly review for 2014 suggested that the rise in machinery and electronics was largely responsible for the period being the most costly in terms of imports in the past five years.

It was also noted that 65 percent of the goods imported during quarter were sourced the UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Sri Lanka. These countries made up 62 percent of total imports in 2013.

The export of tuna products to Thailand dominates the Maldives’ exports – constituting 44 percent in the quarter, having received 37 percent of exports in 2013.

An IMF delegation to the Maldives late last year noted that, though the economy is “relatively buoyant”, the widening fiscal deficit as a result of high public expenditure and debt needed to be addressed.

Revisions to estimates of the current account deficit had indicated greater stability in the economy than previously thought, explained the IMF. Previous MMA estimates of the 2014 trade gap suggested it could equal 22 percent of GDP.

During the IMF’s last visit to the country in February this year, the delegation expressed surprise at the resilience of the economy, admitting that it was still studying how the domestic economy has remained afloat in the face of soaring public debt and persistent budget deficits.

Related to this story

Parliament approves import duty hikes

Maldives economy “relatively buoyant” but fiscal imbalances continue to grow: IMF

Majority of dollar receipts spent on imports: MMA assistant governor


2000 cases of “hazardous” beer destroyed

The Maldives Customs Services has destroyed 2,000 cases of ‘hazardous’ Heineken Lager beer on Thursday.

The Public Health Protection Agency ruled the shipment had passed its expiry date and were badly damaged. Officials from the Customs Services and the Ministry of Defense and National Security destroyed the beer at the waste disposal area at Kaafu Atoll Thilafushi Island.

On Sunday, Customs also destroyed 95 cartons of damaged packaged fruit juice.