Ministry of Finance asked to provide list of political appointees

Minister of Finance and Treasury Ali Hashim was asked today to provide the Parliament with details of the number of political appointees, their titles and salaries under the current government.

Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed requested the information from the minister.

He said there had been a “war on words” regarding the number of political appointees in both the former and current governments, with some people saying there were as many as 600 appointees while others claimed there were fewer than 300.

“There has always been a comparison between this government and the previous one,” Nasheed said, referring to one of the things the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) criticised most about the former government: that it was =‘top heavy.’

Nasheed said he did not ask Minister Hashim for a list of cabinet members or even for the VP’s salary, only for the number of appointees, but the minister “is providing more than I asked for.”

State Minister of Finance Ahmed Assad said the Ministry of Finance would provide Parliament with the list of appointees soon since “there is no reason to withhold it.”

Whether or not the list would become a matter of public knowledge, he said, was “for Parliament to decide.”

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Visaam Ali said the DRP was “really concerned” about the number of political appointees under the current government.

She said she was not only concerned about the government being “top heavy” but was worried because “they advocated different views” during their election campaign in 2007.

“What they are doing is different to what they promised the people,” Visaam said. “They promised the people an MDP government would be different.”

She added that the number of political appointees is even “worse than under the previous government” and there are more political appointees now earning higher salaries that they were under Gayoom’s government.

MDP Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem said government appointees “are not an issue” for the party, but issues dealing with civil servants were a major priority.

Haleem said during the 2007 presidential campaign, MDP had told the people they wanted the government of Maldives to be smaller.

“The former government had over 1,000 political appointees,” claimed Haleem. “Now we have just over four hundred.”